Chelsea Van Der Poel explores how regardless the season, God's goodness creates a hopeful new day.
On the fifteenth day of Advent, 2021, Kelli Hughes shares how Jesus’ call to love one another is lived in action.
A new Commandment
When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
John 13:31-35 NRSV
Just before Jesus' betrayal and death, Jesus gives the disciples a new commandment - “love one another”. Jesus goes on to say their love for one another would be evidence to those around them that they were Jesus disciples.
Jesus must have been referring to more than loving words but loving actions, too.
So what might love in action look like?
For me, it’s closely linked to justice especially for those who find it difficult to have their voices heard. I believe love is intended to seek justice and to restore the wellbeing of individuals, of relationships, and all of Creation.
I try to live out this love in action in many different ways, both big and small.
In the past year, I’ve organised a refugee vigil each Wednesday in Canberra’s CBD. I have been financially and emotionally supporting a young Afghan man detained in PNG for the past eight years. I’ve had an Afghan refugee living in my home for eighteen months and I spoke at a vigil for the Tamil family from Biloela when their four year old was desperately ill in a Perth hospital.
I also take part in climate emergency actions including the early morning Pollie Watch on the road at the rear of Parliament House which politicians use to come to work each morning. I’ve knitted a Climate scarf for #KnitForClimateAction and joined Common Grace on the lawns of Parliament House on 21 June for #ShowYourStripes day. It was great to see my Federal Parliamentarian wear the scarf in Parliament on #WearTheScarf day on 21 October! I also knitted an extra #KnitForClimateAction Climate scarf for my MPs staffer.
I work hard at reducing my own carbon footprint as well as investing and buying ethically. This is not always easy when supply chains and company structures aren’t transparent.
In the latest COVID lockdown I volunteered at a kitchen which was preparing around 5,000 meals a day for vulnerable Canberrans - that’s a lot of vegetables to chop each day.
I also regularly phone, email, and write to State, Territory, and Federal Parliamentarians about cruel government policies, asking for love, justice, and action. I also thank them when they do take action.
Recently, with the lifting of COVID restrictions, I couldn’t resist contacting the NSW Premier and colleagues when I saw them drinking beers at 10am. I asked these leaders why they couldn’t go for coffee and cake instead, and quoted the results of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare research on the harm caused by the irresponsible consumption of alcohol. When the ACT Chief Minister did go out for coffee and cake I thanked him for setting a good example.
The Psalmist expresses beautifully the link between justice and love. “The Lord loves righteousness and justice. The earth is full of His unfailing love." Psalm 33:5.
As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, we know that Easter is not far away. We acknowledge that the re-creating, transforming power of the cross and resurrection demonstrate God’s justice and love which offers new and right relationships with God and with others.
Kelli Hughes lives on Ngunnawal Country and worships at Benedictus Contemplative Church in Canberra. Kelli is a passionate advocate for, and supporter of people on the margins particularly refugees, people seeking asylum and First Nations peoples. Kelli is a tireless advocate for the environment and sustainable living - and tries hard to ‘practice what she preaches’.
Walk with us on this path of Advent.
Encourage us when we are lonely, yearning for You, for love, for justice.
Enfold us in Your love and lift us up.
Enable us to receive Your goodness and grace and to believe that love and justice can indeed go hand in hand.
In Your mighty name, Amen.
Photograph: Phil Cullis, Sunrise, Grahamstown Dam, Worimi Country, New South Wales
Visual Description: Grasses rise from the edge of the dam. A pink sunset reflects onto the surface of the water.