Bible meditation in the consultation of ELCF, CoS and EKD in Höör, 16th May 2022

John 15:10-17

Jesus says:

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.


Dear friends, sisters and brothers in Christ. Yesterday we celebrated the fourth Sunday after Easter. The Latin name of that day is cantate, and as we know, it is taken from the opening words of the psalm 98 that is recited on this Sunday, cantate Domino canticum novum, “sing a new song to the Lord”. This psalm calls all creation, humans as well as animals and nature, to praise God for all the magnificent deeds God has done. The same can be said of last week’s psalm, too. A week ago we had Sunday jubilate, and its psalm 66, jubilate Deo, omnis terra, invites all earth to “shout with joy to God”.

Both psalms find the reason to praises in what God has done. They recall the things that have happened in the past, they bring back to mind how God saved his people from its enemies. The story of God liberating the ancient Israel from slavery is repeated in the Book of psalms time and again. The very close salvation from pharaoh’s troops in the miraculously opened sea is the event that turned the oppressed slaves into a people. They were helpless and doomed in themselves but became saved by God for no other reason than God’s mercy and faithfulness and God’s plan for a future purpose of Israel as the people revealing what God wills for all people on the earth. The miracle in the sea is the mythical birth of a nation.

Dear friends, lately we have faced in our churches, in our countries and in our whole European continent challenges we knew nothing about a couple of years ago. We could not know that there was a pandemic coming to hit us, and now that we are gradually getting free from it, we witness a bitter war and suffering in Ukraine. Our churches have lived their spiritual life under exceptional conditions, and now our local congregations do as much as they can to help the Ukrainian people and to assist the refugees coming to us. Maybe what is happening in Ukraine now will later develop into a story that is told from generation to generation, a story of a nation becoming fully aware of its place as a nation among other nations.

To sing a new song to God maybe means that all the old songs do not apply any more the same way as they did before. One might need a new song to God when the old ones no longer sufficiently express what God has revealed. The magnificent new deeds of God make us burst into new songs in new words. But if there were no old songs at all, how could we sing any songs? How could we pray to God if we had no old words? How could we address God the Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier had God not revealed himself us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

God remains the same from the very beginning to the end. But maybe this is what divine inspiration and revelation are: the eternal God makes us understand something old anew and thus reveals anew something of his eternal majesty. What God is, can only be learned through the revealing deeds of God, and only understood in present context afterwards when interpreted in the light of what was previously learned.

This is also clear in the words of Jesus we heard from the Gospel of John. Jesus no longer calls his disciples servants but instead, his friends. Their relation to God has changed. They have been revealed something new from what God is and what God does. Through Jesus they have been revealed that God is a loving Father. Jesus has made known to them everything he has heard from the Father. Now they are no longer servants but friends. They know what God wills.

To be friends of God does not mean that the disciples would have become all-knowing and omnipotent like God. They still need to work, to study, to pray, and to consult each other to know how to tackle the challenges they might face.

This, my friends, is what has brought us here as delegates from churches. We are here to consult, to study, and to pray together. We are not all-knowing and omnipotent like God. We cannot protect the world from future catastrophes. But as friends of Jesus, we know that we are loved by God who does magnificent deeds – sometimes even through our human hands. God sends us to love each other and serve the world, in order that all the earth can shout with joy to the Lord.