April 20, 2021
2 John 1-6 NRSV
Scenic South District
2 John 1-6 NRSV
1 The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth, and not only I but also all who know the truth, 2 because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever:3 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us from God the Father and from[a] Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, in truth and love.
Truth and Love
4 I was overjoyed to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we have been commanded by the Father. 5 But now, dear lady, I ask you, not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning, let us love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment just as you have heard it from the beginning—you must walk in it.
It is always nice to learn someone’s life has turned out well after a long period of separation. Pastors often experience this when they are invited back to a parish years after leaving. We also experience this at family and class reunions or when an old friend finds us on Facebook. But catching up also means hearing stories of those who have faced hard times and difficulties while we were out of touch. Some have not survived and gone to God. Not every story ends well or in a nice way.
Second John is such a short epistle! We cannot help but realize we are reading someone else’s mail. While we will probably never know the exact meaning of this one-page letter, we can know some things. John was concerned about falsehood and purity of doctrine but he can also see that debating doctrine is secondary to maintaining healthy relationships. John overcomes this restrictive tendency long enough to express his joy over what is going well and passes along encouragement for the future. He reminds his dear lady friend, “let us love one another.” Perhaps this is how we can sidestep our legalistic battles. After all, we give our lives to people not theological positions.
During the Civil War, the American poet and essayist, Walt Whitman, visited hospitals and wrote letters for injured soldiers to the folks back home. He tirelessly visited, sometimes eight hours a day, in the Washington D.C. area where fifty thousand men lay sick, wounded and dying. The aid he offered was not so much medical as it was consolation. He often provided food, pocket change, stamped envelopes with stationary, and candy to the patients. It is said Whitman visited 80,000 to 100,000 hospitalized soldiers. He wrote letters for soldiers unable to write— dozens a day! He often wrote letters announcing the death of a soldier. Whitman served as a surrogate mourner for the dead so far from home and family. He served as communicator and storyteller from the wounded to their awaiting loved ones. He bore love and compassion for the wounds of war. In short, he was an example of love.
If we have learned anything during recent times, it has been the importance of staying touch and offering words of encouragement. A hand-written letter, while old fashioned, is beautiful in its simplicity, expressing what we all long to hear, a kind and uplifting word. As Louis Armstrong once sang in his trademark song, What a Wonderful World, “I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do. They're really saying I love you.”
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. And let me show love to another person today. Amen