A Sermon On John 15:9-17

One of my fondest teenage memories is attending Camp Hayah, in the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Mexico, where I was reared.  We used to have young campers from all over the Diocese, as well as visitors from various Episcopal Dioceses in the United States who joined us every Summer.  It was truly a diverse group of us, which represented different genders, races, ethnicities, socio-economic groups, and languages.  Some spoke Spanish, some spoke English, and only a few spoke both of these languages.  It didn't matter,   We were just loving one another as He loves us!

Camp Hayah was not a regular Church Camp.  It was a working camp.  The only buildings were a makeshift kitchen in a one-room cabin and two outhouses, one for the girls and one for the guys.  Other than the usual Bible Studies, prayer time, and swimming in the river, we did construction work in the heat of the Summer mornings in Northern Mexico.  Talk about a team building activity!  However, my favorite part of the day was the time we spent around the camp fire making a joyful noise unto The Lord.  It was such a blessed experience to share each other's songs of praise in our respective home languages.  It didn't matter if we knew or understood the meaning of the words, we were just loving one another as He loves us!

Happy B-Day Ana
Tim Holtz Dies and Embossing Folders; Various Punches; DCWV Papers; and More
Simon Says Stamp Wednesday Challenge - Bright and Cheerful
Word Art Wednesday #340-341
What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday - 473

We will work with each other, we will work side by side.
We will work with each other, we will work side by side.
And we'll guard each man's dignity, and save each man's pride.
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love!
Yes, they'll know we are Christians by our love!
This late 1960's Catholic folk song epitomized my camp fire experiences.  As we sang it during the climax of our day, we were praising Him, regardless of our cultural, socio-economic, or other differences.  We were just loving one another as He loves us!

So why is this loving one another so important?  According to the Gospel of John 15, Jesus said, “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.”  It is only in His love that we can find true joy.  Yes, we may find joy when having a glass of one of Dexter’s delightful wines, but that’s just temporary joy, a gratifying yet fleeting moment.  True love and joy can only be experienced when we sacrifice for one another. Two perfect examples are Karen’s nursing friend, who would never let a patient die alone on her time, or the many teachers whom I’ve known to work through the weekend to ensure they plan the perfect lesson to reach each and every one of their students.

Hebrews 10:24-25
Doodling and Lettering Journal Page Using Pens, Inks & Markers
Paint Party Friday - Week 16 Year 8
Inspire Me Monday 338
Art Journal Journey - Inspired By

Unfortunately, these are not always the types of examples we seem to be witnessing these days.  It appears that we are living in a society that is threatened by divisiveness more and more each day.  It's not just the color of our skin or our ethnicity like it used to be in the past, but our religious beliefs, our political views, and our stand on controversial issues that continue to tear us apart.  What's more disturbing to me, is the violence that has triggered from all this divisiveness.  Shootings, riots, and vicious character attacks by various groups, which often includes sports, political, and even religious leaders in our country, continue to go against what Jesus commissioned us to do.  And it's coming from every side and/or point of view, so no one can point fingers.  This is not my campfire experience, where we were just loving one another as He loves us.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, as friends of Jesus and bi-vocational ministers, we have a major challenge ahead of us.  In today’s gospel, Jesus said, “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.”  Did this ring a bell for you?  It sure did to me, since I’ve questioned my calling a couple of times during the past year due to the stress of my multiple personal and professional responsibilities.  However, after years of discernment, I am committed to bear the everlasting fruit of His love in everything I do, no matter how impossible it may seem at times.

Camp Capers Sunset
Nikon D-3300
Garden Luck Link Party

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the verb abide in the context of the gospel according to John means “to remain stable or fixed in a state.”  Therefore, to abide in his love, we must follow Jesus’ example and welcome with open arms every person that walks into our churches.  We may not agree with their points of view or lifestyles, but we need to foster the love of Christ.  What’s more, we must reach out to our communities, and involve our parish members through programs such as Invite, Welcome, Connect.  In addition, volunteering our services as hospital chaplains, battered women’s & children’s shelters volunteers, and community food pantries may also help us bear fruit of converted evangelized people.  We must be the church that brought the Most Reverend Michael B. Curry’s father* to the Episcopal Church when he said, “Any church in which black folks and white folks drink out of the same cup knows something about a gospel that I want to be a part of.”  This is the only way we will be able to recreate the love and joy that I experienced at Camp Hayah, which in turn can and will grow our churches.  Now go take them to the campfire, and remember, it’s about just loving one another as He loves us.  Amen!


Valerie-Jael said…
Beautiful art. Good to see you around again. Happy PPF, Valerie
A wonderful post - you are blessed !
Thank you for sharing your art and words and memories ! The birthday card is amazing and your beautiful Hebrews 10:24-25 inspired page linked to Art Journal Journey just makes me happy!
Thank you for joining in at AJJ again Arnoldo!
Happy weekend !
Christine said…
Hey Arnoldo welcome back! Lovely work today.
An inspiring and also thought provoking post - thank you.
I like the colours and the dies that you used on the lovely birthday card and your journal page is very beautiful and special.
Thank you for sharing what inspired you and joining in again at AJJ.
Best wishes... Gill
denthe said…
You have been away a long time! Love your journal page and the way you did the lettering. Loving one another is indeed something the world needs right now ...
Linda Kunsman said…
Amen. A very poignant pots Arnoldo and so true.(and I SO lovingly remember my church camp weeks in the summers) Wonderful birthday card and a beautiful journal page. Happy PPF!
Gillena Cox said…
Wow!!! What a wonderful post of inspirational words and sweet doodlings.
Happy you dropped by my blog Arnoldo

I not only missed your woyww post, I also missed your beautiful art journal entry. Your journal page is quite poignant, and to the point. I like your handwriting, too.

Like you, I would love to eliminate hate, bullying, and divisiveness in my lifetime, but I fear that won't happy. Thanks for sharing this beautiful and moving journal page with us at Art Journal Journey. And happy belated WOYWW from #1.
Marge said…
Awesome ! Love the vintage mood . Thank you for joining us at Simon Says Stamp Wednesday Challenge!
That is really a very good post, and I like the birthday card.
I wish you a nice Sunday.

Many greetings
Ginny Maxam said…
Great post and card! Nice to see you back, I look forward to seeing more of your art work. Thank you for joining In the Word Art Wednesday fun! Ginny M DT
Sharon Madson said…
Fabulous post! Great thoughts to begin my day. Great art, too. I have missed your great thought provoking posts; glad to see you back. Thanks for the earlier visit. #11
Sarah Brennan said…
Hi Arnoldo, thanks for visiting me already. You have some beautiful art work on display this week and some thought provoking messages. Have a great week. Sarah #5
Kathryn Frantz said…
Thank you, Arnoldo. Your words always speak to my heart and my Christian memories. I have sung the song in today's sermon many times over the years.

I have followed WOYWW for many years but being "blog impaired" had not been able to join in. Last year, Mrs. Dunnit posted she would be coming to America and if anyone was close she would try to coordinate a visit. I messaged her through FB. My husband and I only live 4-5 hours away from where she would be. We arranged to meet. My husband and hers, Julia and I, enjoyed a wonderful, memorable afternoon. She had no idea that others may be following and not able to post. We have managed to keep our friendship growing over the year. Just a few weeks ago, someone posted via Instagram so I tried it! Although I am a stranger to you, you and your words and not to me. God Bless.
Hi Arnoldo, great to see you back. Loved reading your thoughts today. Here in the city where I live a few people have started hiding little pieces of art for people to find. I think it's a lovely way to connect with other people and hopefully make them smile a little. Thanks for the visit to mine and happy woyww, Angela x13x
Diana Taylor said…
Hi Arnoldo, it seems an age since I visited your blog, good to see you back. Your art work is beautiful - I love the journal page, and what a great birthday card too. Wise words from you, the post is very thought provoking and inspiring.
Diana #17
Hazel said…
Your artwork is so gorgeous and inspirational, as are your words as well. Thanks for sharing - Hazel WOYWW #8 x
NatureFootstep said…
beautiful art and sunset :)
I'm back again, this time for both WOYWW and Art Journal Journey. I love that cup you created. It is inspiring, as is your idea of a working summer camp. And of course, I love the beautiful sunset, too.

Happy WOYWW this week from #3 and thank you for joining us at Art Journal Journey.
Julia Dunnit said…
lovely to see your artwork at WOYWW again Arno! Love the birthday card for Ana, hope she had a glorious day!
Hi Arnoldo, thanks for your visit earlier. It's lovely to see your wonderful artwork again. I especially like the journal page with the church building - the sections of threes work so well and are so symbolic - lovely thoughts as well. Have a great week! zsuzsa #23
Annie Claxton said…
Hello Arnoldo, good to see you again, love the doodly journal page especially :o) Annie C #18