“We are all in the same boat in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.” — G.K. Chesterton

John 17:20-26
Colossians 3:12-14
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

A few weeks ago I sat in a spacious living room that was not spacious enough. The definition of proper seating extended to include the floor, end tables, and even other people. When these invented options were exhausted as well, the remainder of the large crowd that gathered simply stood; the rest squeezed into corners and deep past the double doors that marked the entrance to the room. While the arrangement was not comfortable in the physical sense, the purpose of the gathering overshadowed the inconvenience.

College students, twenty-somethings, senior citizens, singles, married couples, retired people, career men and women and representatives from all other disparate categories filled the room. No outside observer could have concocted a clear reason for why this mismatched crowd gathered. And yet the reason was not an event or some form of entertainment; the reason was a couple, a man and a woman who had loved every person in that room extravagantly.

We gathered to say good-bye as they left their home of the past two years, where they served as hosts of a house in Washington D.C. Although retired, they pursued this task with more effort and energy than any job before.  They cooked, cleaned, and offered hospitality in heaping quantities. But more than these defined roles, they loved. Always. They were the kind of people who always made space in their lives and their schedules when anyone called and wanted to just stop by and say hi. When I called once to schedule a time to see them, they invited me to come on their Friday night date. (Incidentally, this evening with a seventy-year old couple was the best date this twenty-something girl has been on in quite  some time.)

They offered career advice, took me to breakfast, and asked pertinent questions about life. They cared, listened, and remembered. They loved honestly and we and we recounted these at the “going away party” that was more like a funeral, mourning their departure from the city.

Jesus commanded us to live in unity with one another, to be good trees that bear good fruit. As I looked around the crowded room, the electric mixture of party guests transformed into a beautiful harvest of fruit, very much varied but all harvested at the point of ripeness by the love of this couple. They unified people with their availability and embrace of all.

Love produced the unity. And not a selective type of love that required possible recipients to be worthy enough, good-looking enough, able-enough, or capable enough to offer something in return. The love that brought about this collection of people did not devise or discern who was “in” or “out.” They loved everyone who came through their door.

As we sat there and relished the final moments of time, it struck me that because of the love we received walking through that door, none of us wanted to walk out the door.

What prevents you from producing the fruit of unity?
Why do you resist inclusion?
How can you love others? 


© 2007