Sunday Services: 8:30AM and 10:30AM

Wednesday Service: 9:30AM

If it looks like love… and if it smells like love…

REV. CHRISTIAN BARON – May 10, 2015 – Easter 6, Year B: John 15:9-17

If it looks like love… and if it smells like love…

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…

I spent time this week downtown at Tulip Time. People came by the busload to try Ollie Bolen and pea soup. They were desperate for Dutch cuisine. Desperate enough that they were willing to pay $2.00 for a water. We dressed up in silly clothes and wore silly hats. I watched a mess of Klompen dancers on stage at the civic and was reminded about my heritage and how much Dutch people like to par-tay.

Though I am 100 percent Dutch, since moving back to Holland, I haven’t fully been able to recall, until this past week, the language of my people, “Passive aggressiveness”. And this week was like a language immersion course in passive aggression.  Teasing… It was a great week.

I saw many of you down at the Civic Center. We washed dishes and and worked in tents with several deep fryers. Some of you ran to the store for emergency supplies or to pick up pop or pastries from DeBoers. We laughed… we got into each others personal space. We worked in harmony with the United Methodists and I watched the veterans work circles around me. And, we made a lot of money. We made a lot of money. And that money will help pay for the group of us going to the United Kingdom next summer on Pilgrimage. And lives will be changed. Lives of the youth in this parish will be changed. Our youth will become more connected to the vine that nourishes them. They will be more connected to the Church and they will return with a fuller understanding of the world on which they must abide.

But what was most memorable for me this week, was watching the members of Grace show hospitality. We were hospitable to the guests, to the United Methodists, to the other Hollanders who came and looked for a taste of the Netherlands. I can’t count the times I saw Jen Wolfe advise a tourist about where they should eat dinner or find a bathroom. The times I saw Doug Zylstra read a nametag of a tourist and call them by name and surprise them.  The times I saw Prescott Slee smile and shake it off when he had to give direction to the new curate or repeat it to a new volunteer. This kindness, It is something I have grown accustomed to since my arrival 11 months ago, but spending a week in close quarters with you folks, reminded me of how special this place truly is.

[pullquoteright] And if it looks like love… and smells like love… it must be Jesus.[/pullquoteright]

Because when that is visible… When people see those things, they see resurrection. They see that Grace is a group of people abiding in the resurrection. They see a group of people connected to the vine. People at the Civic Center could tell… they could see the love…

I’ll be unable to go back to the Civic without seeing the faces of our Grace folks.  And it will not be easy to forget the smells that came from the kitchen and from the food we served. Made with love by our folks and the United Methodists. Made with our hands and our prayers.  And though I won’t need to eat anything fried for a while, I’ll miss those smells.  The smells of the pig in the blankets and the potatoes and kale. And the smells of the sweat and hard work of those working closest to me..  Those smells mixed and made a fervent offering up to God. People at the Civic could tell… they could smell the love.

And if it looks like love… and smells like love… it must be Jesus.

Anybody who has ever experienced authentic love knows that you can’t fake it. The kind of love that John is talking about in the gospel, is unmistakable.  That is why this story… the story of Jesus is so remarkable… that’s why it has lasted this long… That’s why the story is so compelling and why it changes life. It models for us a way to live for something other than for ourselves. Jesus models a way of being and living that is completely counter intuitive to the self centered human condition. But I saw a bunch of Hollanders (and some Hamiltonians) who were living a life of resurrection this week. Donating time and talent to feed hungry people. Just like we do on the 2nd Thursday of each month, and when we feed college students at Hope… and when we feed youth and families at Family Chow… and when we invite one another over for Holy Chow… and when we are fed at the altar… at God’s table…

So be on the lookout for love… Be on the lookout for those sacrificing their time and sacrificing their talents for others.  This is the sign of Christ.  This is the sign of the Church. This is the sign of Grace. And if it looks like love… and smells like love and tastes like love… it must be Jesus.