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Abide in Love

Jesus said to his disciples, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.-John 15:9

A week ago I went to work expecting a typical day at the campus. I picked up a pizza order, I set out drinks, and waited for students. Within fifteen minutes the whole direction of my day changed as six state troopers galloped past our space on draft horses. I felt like I was witnessing the beginning of a war. It soon became clear that the troopers were there in response to a pro-Palesitinian march, and there were more police on their way. 

I grabbed my stole, and went to see what was going on. What I found was a mass of students and faculty, standing on one of UT’s main drags, holding signs, singing, and chanting, I saw counter protests and all in all things seemed peaceful. Then the empire showed up, in full force. All I could think was “four dead in Ohio.”

Why was I there? Should I run? Was I pro-Palestine? What about my Jewish colleagues; were they safe? In truth I wasn't there because I wanted to take a stand for one side or the other, but I stayed because I wanted to witness to love, and to stand in the name of Christ in the face of violence. I was there to abide in love. Within a few hours, other clergy were there too, quietly abiding in love, and over the last week we have witnessed God’s dream of love be played out. 

Churches and campus ministries have jumped into action, to abide in love even when violence is let loose. Ministers have washed tear gas out of students' eyes. Jewish students who disagree with the protestors have served as medics. Various religious groups have opened their doors for respite and I have watched as the UT campus has witnessed what it means to love our neighbor. Those of us serving the encampments have also been trying to make sure the Jewish community on campus feels loved and supported even as many sit on a different side of the current issue. I have watched us abide in love. It has been a rehearsal for the kin-dom of God. It has also been a reminder of how far the world is from God’s dream, how much the state is still ready to crucify folks who challenge the status quo, and how much work we still have ahead of us to live as if we believe the prayer that Jesus taught us, “on earth as in heaven”.

In these final weeks of Eastertide, I hope that we can all work together to abide in love, and to witness to the risen Christ who shows us that love can not be killed. May we witness to the core of our faith that “the strife is o’er,” and though the world is imperfect we are called to proclaim the truth that we must abide in love. These are strange days and it is love we need, now more than ever.


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