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  • Rev. Annie McMillan

“This Life Eternal”

God has given us eternal life. Typically, we interpret this to mean heaven:

life everlasting after we die; Peter and the pearly gates. And there’s something very

real about that. It’s a comfort and a hope to remember that God’s love extends far

beyond our life here and now. Our life after this one is about more than what we

leave behind on earth. It is about being with God, hoping for that New Heaven and

New Earth that we will be resurrected to in the end. Yesterday, we celebrated

Elsie’s life in a “service to the Witness of the Resurrection.” Whenever we have a

funeral or memorial service here, we hear about our hope- our hope of resurrection

to Eternal Life, our hope that God’s love and promise continue far past our time

here. During such times, we need to be reminded of that, to remember that this life

is not the end.

But what if eternal life is more than the reward of heaven after we die? In

her commentary on this passage for Working Preacher a while back, Audrey West


Eternal life is the strongest evidence for God's testimony,

and it is manifested among [the community] in ways they

have already experienced.

Both the Gospel of John and 1 John understand eternal

life to be a present reality as well as future promise for

those who believe in Jesus Christ. ‘Life’ in this sense …

has to do with a quality of existence that death cannot

destroy. That is, it is ‘eternal,’ not in the sense of lasting

forever, but in its quality, in its manifestation in the here

and now.

What if eternal life is not merely a reward after death, but what we live here

and now? According to 1st John, God is love. Jesus is God’s “Son” and the

testimony to this truth is the life that Jesus lived: in baptism, in life, and even in his

death. In all of this, Jesus lived Eternal life. All of these things we are called to

believe and put our trust in. Because by believing, we have eternal life, even in


So what might this Eternal Life look like? It’s a life that incorporates

everything else 1 st John has been talking about: loving each other in deep

friendships instead of surface acquaintances, sharing what we have materially with

those in need, trusting in Christ here and now. West continues:

Thus, the most persuasive evidence for eternal life is seen

in the extent to which the community walks in the

manner that Jesus walked and demonstrates its love for

one another.

How are we doing that, here and now? We are a community of faith. We are

called to love all brothers and sisters in Christ, but what if we start right here, right


We’re already loving each other. We see it in our meals together at the

Gathering welcoming those who come to join us for a meal, and when we go

between tables, chatting with and supporting each other. We see it in our work

with the other churches within the Community Meal Initiative as we seek to feed

those who need a meal. We joined with other Presbyterian churches a few weeks

ago for fellowship on the Valley Gem. A few of us were even at First Lutheran’s

Ascension Day worship service at Fort Boreman. The kids here have become a

family, and welcome new kids into their group. They invite each other over to

play and celebrate birthdays. They miss each other when someone isn’t here.

We see the deep love of eternal life in joyful banter, helpful conversation,

and helpful criticism. By being open with each other when we need to be. Through

anonymous and not-so-anonymous generosity: financial gifts, as well as the gifts

of time and talent and leadership. We see it in our volunteers of the Quarter whom

we’ll be celebrating next week. In the Mission Committee’s continuing desire to

listen to the community’s needs and find ways to help.

This church is full of people who do indeed love the Lord and each other.

Can we do better? Of course- we always can. But we are living Eternal life right

here, right now.

Thanks be to God.

Alleluia! Amen

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