I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
These words of Jesus, set against the backdrop of him washing the disciples' feet,in some ways make all our angst to find just the right model of discipleship a nonsense and, in other ways, sets us the biggest challenge possible:
How can we make disciples if we cannot Be disciples?
I love that hymn by William Rutherford:
Lord, can this really be?
Is this your church, the people that I see,
who gather here and worship you with me?
And must I love them all,
shoulder their loads, and answer when they call,
forgive their faults and raise them when they fall?
With the coda:
Lord, could this really be?
Lord, let it really be.
That challenge extends beyond the walls of our congregations. We are constantly called back to love, whether trying to be disciples or to make disciples.
All the books and all the programmes, tried and tested, in the world will make no difference until, first, we learn to love and love and love again.