We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, who are still here, and we honor with gratitude the land itself and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

“I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” – John 15:11

1 From the SALT blog for May 5, 2024 –  Following directly on last week’s passage in which Jesus casts himself as “the vine” and the disciples as the vine’s fruitful branches, here Jesus elaborates on just what sort of “fruit” he has in mind: works of love for the sake of joy.
Here Jesus elaborates on just what sort of “fruit” he has in mind: works of love for the sake of joy.

2 The key to understanding the “farewell discourse” in John (John 14-17) is to remember that Jesus is engaged here in urgent pastoral care, assuring his distraught disciples that his imminent departure is not abandonment, but rather a move that will make way for an even deeper intimacy. Accordingly, the exhortations in this week’s passage (“love one another”) are expressions of care and reassurance. Hearing Jesus this way shifts the tone from mere imperative (“you must go and do such-and-such”) to warm encouragement and consolation (“take heart, I’m not abandoning you — as you go and do such-and-such, we’ll be together!”).

3 Joy – The key theme in the farewell discourse is joy. In this passage, and again in chapters 16 and 17, Jesus frames joy as the ultimate goal of his ministry to his disciples, and by extension to the whole world: “that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11).

It’s as if Jesus is saying, “On one level, I am about to leave you, but on a deeper level, we’ll be even closer than before. Just continue along the path I have shown you — and we’ll be together. Love one another — and you’ll thereby abide in my love, which is to say, you’ll abide in me, as intimate as a vine and its branches. Your love itself will be the sign of all signs that we are acting together, living together, abiding together. Listen and embody my commandment to love, and we’ll be inseparable, too.”

And then it’s as if Jesus adds: “And here’s the point of all this: I want us to be so close that my joy is yours, so that your joy will be perfect joy, complete joy, joy in all its fullness. Isn’t that what all loving parents want for their children? Complete joy? That’s what God wants for you!

4 Friendship – What do we typically call a relationship characterized by this confluence of listening, love, togetherness, creativity, and joy? In this week’s passage Jesus calls it friendship, another note of assurance and consolation for his disciples, as if he’s saying: “I no longer call you ‘servants’ but rather ‘friends’ — and of course I would never abandon my friends!

5. This is for everyone – Finally, in light of this week’s passage from Acts, we can add this: Love seeks a world in which this “complete joy” is not just for a privileged few, but rather for everyone. Peter’s rhetorical-yet-subversive question — “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (Acts 10:4