An Invitation to Eternity
By Carol DeSchepper, Spiritual Director, ELPNA Executive Director
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. … I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends … It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you … John 15:12-13, 15a, 16
The command of Christ as He is getting ready to ascend to the Father seems so simple. ‘Love one another.’ Here in John 15, we have 17 verses where we are told what it means to have Christ love us, how we stay connected to Him, and we are given a mandate to love others. This is obviously not the only place in scripture where we are taught to love. Christ modeled love for us so often in so many ways. So, why is it so hard to love one another? What stands in the way of loving our families, co-workers, strangers, and enemies? I know those don’t all happen with the same ease, but that is what we are called to. Are we alienated and divided by betrayal, jealousy, bitterness, violation, abuse, the color of our skin, religious differences, political differences, or other?
Maybe part of the answer to loving others comes when Jesus refers to His disciples and to us as ‘friends’. If we don’t nurture our friendship with Jesus, it’s hard to know and take seriously His expectations of us. It’s like knowing someone who doesn’t communicate with you (or you with them) so you function like strangers that have no mutual understanding or respect. How can you have high regard for those who live at a distance emotionally and spiritually, leave alone love them? I think today of the Ukrainian people and how their survival is dependent on loving one another; in some cases, laying down their lives for their fellow countrymen and women. Would we be willing to do the same? While that might seem an exaggerated example as we sit in our comfortable homes and communities, it is the kind of fierce love we are called to.
Today, if you have a difficult time loving Christ or others, I encourage you to reevaluate your connectedness with others you wish to have a meaningful and loving relationship with. Most importantly, reflect on your relationship with Jesus Christ, and if He feels distant and indifferent, maybe your friendship with Him is lacking completeness, time, and attention. Meaningful relationships are mutual and reciprocated. Have you done your part to be a friend to Christ and to others? Do you love deeply enough to lay down your life for Christ and/or others? You are chosen. It’s not just a simple call, but an invitation to life in Eternity.
Resources for Spiritual Growth and Development
Center for Action and Contemplation
Fr. Richard Rohr is a Franciscan of the New Mexico Province and the Founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
This is a wonderful spiritual resource from author and retreat and conference speaker, and spiritual "midwife". Joyce has a B.A. (Bachelor of Arts) in English, a M.R.E. (Masters in Religious Education), and a M.A. (Master of Arts) in Transpersonal Psychology. She is a member of the Servite Community (Servants of Mary) and was a volunteer for Hospice for fifteen years. She currently resides in Des Moines, Iowa. To sign up for her monthly newsletter go to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daily Grace from Women of the ELCA (WELCA)
Daily Grace is an on-the-go companion for your journey, offering a faith reflection every day. Encounter God’s extravagant, boundless and often surprising grace by signing up for a daily email message. You can also download the newly updated app for your IOS and Android devices.
God Pause Daily Devotion
Looking for spiritual refreshment? God Pause email devotions are short, meaningful reflections on the following Sunday's lessons and gospel delivered directly to your email box. By Sunday, you'll be ready for an extra meaningful worship experience.
Melissa's Prayer Journal: The Power of Prayer in the Face of Cancer
ELCA Daily Bible Reading
There you will find a link to sign up.
If you are drawn to Lectio Divina as a prayer practice, Lectio365 is a daily devotional virtual resource that helps you pray the Bible every day. Written by leaders from the 24-7 Prayer movement, this resource helps you engage with the word, fix your eyes on Jesus, and connect with God in prayer.
TEXT & AUDIO – Read or listen to every devotional.
The app is free and is available through the Google Play store.
Spiritual Direction – Seeking a Spiritual Companion
Spiritual direction is, in reality, nothing more than a way of leading us to see and obey the real Director — the Holy Spirit hidden in the depths of our soul. (Thomas Merton, Trappist monk, USA)
Some of you may wish to seek a spiritual director as a way to nurture your own spirituality. Spiritual maturity and growth is critical for the parish nurse. As you support others in body, mind, and spirit, tending to your own soul is important. Spiritual Direction is only one way of keeping yourself centered and grounded spiritually. You perhaps have other disciplines and practices that meet this need for you.
Contact Carol DeSchepper for a more in-depth discussion of Spiritual Direction, including access to a web site to locate a Spiritual Director.