New mandate? What do you mean it is a "new" mandate? There is nothing new about it. We are reading from a book that is 1900 years old. How on earth is that considered new? And isn't that part of the problem? We want something new all the time. I just got a new car (a red Saturn Vue to be exact), and my wife just bought new furniture for the upstairs family room. (0% financing and good deals makes for a buyers market . . . recession ha ha ha.) And the faith we are given is ancient, almost timeless.
It is Holy Week and Passover, so even secular talk radio has religious experts on as guests. Emergent experts were a day or two ago. And yes, we need something new. The way we have done church for the last 150 years is not working. But how much has to change? It is hard to say what is most important. If we are given an ancient faith that will stretch into the end of time, how do we keep it fresh? If we really are given a new, 2000 year-old, mandate tonight, how do we embody that today?
I want to make a modest proposal that we start with our Christian brothers and sisters. We have to stop looking at each other as the enemy. I think one of the major broken pieces in the modern church is that for the last 150 years, we have said, "I disagree, so I am parting ways." We have churches all over the landscape, but we have little love for one another. The ecumenical movement of let us all hold hands and act cordial is ridiculous, because one group will look at another and overtly or passively say, "You are not REALLY Christian."
So, I beg my fellow Christians, clergy and lay, to take serious the new mandate. "Love each other as I have loved you." Let's take something new out of this ancient word.