Day 36: 40 Days from Africa

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

John 13:34-35 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

“Love One Another”

We had the pleasure of sharing several meals Bishop John Innis and Irene Innis.  During one of our meals we found ourselves in a discussion about the role of the church as the country seeks restoration following the civil war.  One person on the team asked specifically about the current governmental leaders. We were aware President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was a member of First United Methodist Church in Monrovia.  The conversation was not about politics.  Rather, we were seeking to understand how faithful people participate in leading post-civil war Liberia.

As the discussion unfolded, we came to understand the full impact of one of Irene Innis’s statements.  She said, “I pray for the heart of our leaders.”  Irene named the real issue at hand:  how was the love of God realized in the country?  The matter at hand was not a political issue, but a heart issue. Irene’s faithful prayers were prayers for hearts to be formed in Christ.  Her witness and was one of a heart formed and shaped by Jesus’ love.

The heart of Christ was present in the people we met.  Whether at the Ganta United Methodist Hospital, the Bishop Judith Craig Children’s Village, or the new school in West Point, we witnessed the church in acts of love.  We witnessed the love of God overflowing in the worst slums in the country and in the tropical forest region of Ganta.  There are no boundaries to God’s love.

“Love one another,” Jesus said, as he prepared the disciples for his death and resurrection.  As we continue the journey of Holy Week, receive Jesus words to the disciples:  love one another.  Where challenges come, love one another.  As you gather around the dinner table, love one another.  As you travel, love one another.  Jesus’ love has the power to confront us and change us.  May we remember the heart of Jesus is one seeking love and unity.  May we celebrate Christ’s love for us. May we pray for the heart of leaders so our own hearts will be shaped by Jesus’ love.

Loving God, we stand astounded by your love for us; we are in awe of your mercy that overflows.  Guide us in our living so we might reflect your love to others, fill us with a vision of your love offered to us without price, then remind us the gift we have received in you.  We do not pretend to know how to love as we ought or even as we should.  Teach us, we pray, to walk with you.  Continue to shape the hearts of our leaders, in Cincinnati and Monrovia; in the United States and in Liberia; in our church and the church universal.  We desire to be your witnesses in the world, witnesses that testify to your love.  Make it so, through your love, Lord.  Amen. 

Make your reservation for the Liberia Dinner Celebration, April 27, 2012.

Give online to the Global Outreach Easter Offering

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