A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
Just hours before he would make the journey to the cross, Jesus spoke the words that he intended to be the guiding principle for his disciples as they carried his mission forward. He referred to this as a “new commandment,” which must have been as curious to them as it is to us. After all, hasn’t love been a noble and essential characteristic of the people of God in every generation? That is certainly true, but in view of the expression of love Jesus is about to demonstrate, it ought to mean a lot more, both for them and for us. Jesus insists that this will be not only desirable, but essential–it will be the defining trait of those who will seek to follow Jesus.
With that in mind, the Estes congregational theme for 2023 will be “Love One Another.” Of course, this would always be a relevant and compelling subject. But surely in today’s climate it is more important than ever! Our world needs to experience the love of God, and Christians need to be beacons of love for the world to see and feel.
Over the course of the coming year, we will consider the love of God toward us, the love we should have for God, the love we should have for the lost, and the love we should have for one another. You will hear sermons on this theme, and many of our Bible classes will focus on aspects of the theme as well. It is our prayer that we can grow in love for God and others as we make this our focus for 2023.