Today we receive an incredible challenge: Jesus laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for one another (1 John 3:16). Christ gave his life for us as a shepherd would lay down his life for his sheep (John 10:11).

photo by the author

How often have we ever truly been called upon to risk our life for the sake of another? Probably some of us have stepped in to intervene when we’ve witnessed bullying or other unfair treatment. It’s possible that we’ve spoken up upon seeing blatant racism or ableism or other prejudicial behavior. Most likely, all of us wish to be that person seeking fair treatment in the face of injustice. But how often do we truly follow words with actions? Nearly everyone reading this post can find some way to do better. It may not be easy. But then, neither was Christ’s crucifixion.

The balance for the preacher is to find a way to encourage your community to faithful action without making it seem like God’s love needs to be earned, and without simply turning the sermon into a guilt trip. Jesus died so we don’t have to… but Jesus also served as the model for sincere and selfless love. How will you address this balance? One obvious difference between us and Jesus is that he laid down his life and then was raised from the dead – which it seems he knew in advance according to John 10:17. We can be pretty sure that we will only receive life again in the spiritual sense. Does that change our commitment to action?

There are other preaching possibilities offered by the Revised Common Lectionary. Perhaps you’re following the stories in Acts this Easter season, and learning about the brave and messy development of the early church. Today, Peter bravely invokes the name of Jesus when confronted by hostile authorities. How do our churches and church leaders bravely stand up today and proclaim the name of Jesus? When we do so, are we following Peter’s example of invoking that name for healing and wholeness? Based on this example, Jesus’ name is not meant to be used to defend violence or division, though some Christians today seem to have missed that memo.

As always, the season of Easter is about new life, faith, and hope. In what ways does your community reflect the resurrected life of Jesus to the world? Wherever you are in your worship prep, share your questions and ideas below! Blessings to you in your ministry this week.

Katya Ouchakof is living the bivocational professional life, serving as a hospital chaplain and a paddlesports professional in Madison, WI (USA). She recently took a first aid certification class where she unexpectedly reunited with a family member of a person whose funeral she led not too long ago. Sometimes, life’s intersections are divinely inspired!

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7 thoughts on “RCL: Sacrificial Love

  1. I’m using 1 John and connecting loving one another with Earth Day and antiracism. I’m thankful for your encouragement to connect this with action without making it feel like grace is earned. A good reminder and challenge for this week.

    Liked by 1 person

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