Knowing how to love each other

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Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.And you know the way to the place where I am going.  Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’

-John 14:1-7

“I am a girl that can ride a bike, I am a girl that can ride a bike, I am a girl that can ride a bike”.  These are the words my seven year old daughter kept muttering from under her bike helmet in a determined and slightly panicked tone as she once again got onto her bicycle.  A 7th birthday present she is determined to ride it without training wheels before she turns eight this month.  Frankly, she already can ride it without training wheels, and has been able to do so for quite a while. But, when she discovers my husband or I have let go of our supportive grip on the seat, she geeks.  Wooble, brakes, feet fast to the ground…”I don’t know how to do this.  I don’t know the way.  How will I ever learn the way to do this?”

When my younger brother Jon was 4 years old he asked my mother to call him by the name of an older boy who already knew how to ride a bike.  So every morning, for about a week in June of 1972 before he got on my hand-me-down purple bike (with a banana seat and broken brakes) his name was Michael.  “Going out to ride my bike, Mom”.  “Okay, Michael, have fun.”, my mother replied.  Michael knew how to ride the bike, he knew the way.  And, by being Michael when he was on the seat of that bike, Jon learned the way too.  And within a week he was a four year old able to ride a bike.

Sometimes we know the way even though we don’t realize we do.  Sometimes we know the way because we live into it.  Sometimes the way finds us.  Whichever way, we get there.

Jesus invites us into the way. “Believe in God.  Believe also in me.”   How do we know God?  How do we know Jesus?  Study? Yes. A spiritual practice? Yes. Prayer? Yes. But the only we way we can truly know “the way, the truth and the life” is through Christian community. By loving one another…when it is hard, when it is easy, when it is scary, when it is amazing.  Sometimes when we do not really know the way and just have to live into it. And perhaps it is a little like riding a bike, even if we don’t know we know how to do it.  Loving one another with the help of those who teach us, loving one another by modeling those who do it well.  Loving one another even when the we don’t quite have the confidence to do it perfectly.

My daughter turns eight this month.  And she is now a “girl that can ride a bike”  Zipping around, visiting friends, even getting lost in the neighborhood  once and having to find her way home.

We know the way.  We are ‘ones that know how to love one another.’

– When have you felt the love of God through your faith community?
– How is God calling you into loving another that challenges you?
– Consider those in your life (past or present) who have modeled “the way” for you.  Pick up the phone, write them a note or an email to share what they have meant to you.  Include them in your daily prayers.

-Susan Ransom McDonald

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