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Then Jesus said, "Love one another as I have loved you."

A simple, simple command. One that many of us have heard all our lives. But, there's a twist that we sometimes miss.

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The command is not just "love one another." That, of course, would be difficult enough. All people everywhere are unlovable at some times and in some ways. Just consistently loving people is a challenge.

But the command carries the qualifier "as I have loved you." I can imagine Jesus looking around the room as he said this, leaving the rest of sentence unsaid:

"As I have loved you, Matthew, even though you worked for the Romans and oppressed people through your tax collecting."

"As I have loved you, Simon, even though you are a Zealot who in another setting would probably kill Matthew in an instant."

"As I have loved you, James and John, even though you are rich and act entitled."

"As I have loved you, Peter, even though you are loud and impetuous and have neither filter nor judgment."

If we are to love one another as Jesus said to do, it means loving each other as we are -- with our foibles, and prejudices, and blind spots, and character flaws. It means accepting everyone around us as equally deserving of our love and care -- because we need the same acceptance ourselves.

And here's the hard truth: it means loving and accepting those who are different from us politically, as well. It means loving Republicans, and Tea Baggers, and Libertarians, and elected officials from the "other side," and DINOs, and the uninformed and the uninterested and the Fox News watchers. It means figuring out how to disagree without hating. It means standing for our principles without becoming haughty and dismissive. And it means realizing that somewhere, under all the jockeying and posturing and rhetoric, we are all still humans, needing grace and acceptance. And needing love.

Love one another, as I have loved you. We are here tonight to carry out this command -- to accept and love each other, no matter what we bring to the table. Dem, Repub, old, young, of faith or not, front pager or lurker -- all are welcome here. Share your burdens, ask for prayers or good thoughts, support each other.

The floor is open. What is on your heart tonight?

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