God is love (Easter 5 John 15:1-8, 1 John 4:7-21) All people who use language are second-hand word-mongers: we mangle words or varnish by buying into meanings to suit rival agendas. We fumble in our juggling, and truth becomes entangled with hurts to which we’re subject, and what one hears, another would never have imagined. So “God is love” gets twisted for some who hear “Our Father”. They might have had a parent, unreasonably controlling, whose harshness warps the nature of their resistant children. Then “God” and “love” seem hollow, and protest shapes a cynic whose love is sparse and godless. Yet “God is love” is speaking of wisdom sourced in wonder at what we see in Jesus – a God more than Creator, a wise and gracious parent: compassionate and caring for all that is becoming, forgiving finite creatures their limited awareness, their fear for their survival that warps their best intentions. When we abide in Jesus, it helps refine our loving. Our “me-first” competition for limited resources transforms into the service we base on his example. We give from our abundance, so grateful for receiving, and sometimes try to offer self-sacrificial caring not just to those we value, but enemies and strangers. When Jesus speaks of pruning, it’s not an angry stripping, but shaping for our fruiting with stronger upright branches that show the vine’s true nature. What falls away enhances resilience and balance. Since God is love, and Jesus embodies what such love is, when they abide within us our love will bear their image.