Tuesday, those familiar with the Anglican communion, used in the UCC from 1930 to 1970’s, will recognize the call to confession of sin. Those familiar with the Fourth Gospel will recognize a reflection on major themes of its piety.
We get the promise of a ‘Paraclete’, an ‘advocate’, the Spirit of God interceding for us. We get the Christology (person and work of Jesus) centering on ‘propitiation’, or ‘atonement’. The slogans of Anselm’s dogma of atonement as a commercial transaction, Jesus paying off our cosmic credit card debt, are hard to silence for many of us: ‘Jesus paid the price for our sins’.
Try to hang in with unfamiliar translation and with the rest of today’s reading, to read something new about what difference Jesus makes for our belonging, believing, and behaving as part of something so good, rather than all so bad.
The commandment from the Fourth Gospel is repeated: love one another. That’s a reference to loving a sister or brother in the community – not just indiscriminate affection for other humans. “I love humanity – but surely not that guy at the church!”
Explicitly reject worldly affections. Get ready to hate the antichrists who lead the community astray. This is more like ‘love and struggle in Mao’s thought’, or Trotstyite ‘for their own good’ reasoning, than blithe vague romanticism.
For me, Jose Miranda’s ‘Being and Messiah’ was the turning point, offering a Marxist reading of the Fourth Gospel: a vaguely spiritual ‘Christ’ is useless without incarnating it in the flesh, in Jesus. In turn, practice has to be equally concrete – beyond good intentions.
What do you make of this argument this time?
1 John 2
1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;
2and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
3 Now by this we may be sure that we know him, if we obey his commandments.
4Whoever says, ‘I have come to know him’, but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist;
5but whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in him:
6whoever says, ‘I abide in him’, ought to walk just as he walked.
7 Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word that you have heard.
8Yet I am writing you a new commandment that is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.
9Whoever says, ‘I am in the light’, while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness.
10Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling.
11But whoever hates another believer is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has brought on blindness.
12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven on account of his name.
13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young people, because you have conquered the evil one.
14 I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young people, because you are strong and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
5 Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world;
16for all that is in the world — the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches — comes not from the Father but from the world.
17And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live for ever.
18 Children, it is the last hour! As you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. From this we know that it is the last hour.
19They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But by going out they made it plain that none of them belongs to us.
20But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and all of you have knowledge.
21I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and you know that no lie comes from the truth.
22Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.
23No one who denies the Son has the Father; everyone who confesses the Son has the Father also.
24Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father.
25And this is what he has promised us, eternal life.
26 I write these things to you concerning those who would deceive you.
27As for you, the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and so you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, abide in him.
28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he is revealed we may have confidence and not be put to shame before him at his coming.
29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who does right has been born of him.