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Love Actually

3 months ago

How do you feel about Valentines day? In this week's ReSource blog, Anne Roberts explores how LOVE is the foundation of our faith!

I am writing this in the run up to Valentines’ Day. A time when shops make a huge profit on cards, flowers, chocolates, or on those special meal deals. A time when restaurants are fully booked up and primary school classes are peppered with pink tissue paper and red glitter. I am not a moaner, it is good to celebrate love and marriage, and all things romantic. 

But I am aware that it can also be yet another difficult day for some. Like I find both Mothering Sunday and Father’s Day really hard. The commercial focus on these occasions can simply amplify what you feel is missing in life. I worry that some people tell themselves on the 14 February that because they do not receive a sloppy card, then they are not loved. It is a lie.

We have this one word in the English language that speaks of love and yet it encompasses so much. I love coconut, but I also love my children. I fell in love with Kevin, but I also learned to really love parsnips. The word can’t mean the same. As Christians we are taught to “put on love” and “love one another” and this is vital for the growth of God’s kingdom on earth,  but we quickly learn that the word is about practical care, honour and respect, and hardly ever about romantic feelings. 

We are told that the first and most important commandment is to “love God with all our heart, and mind and strength” and we may seek to do that, but we perceive it as different to the passion we may have for a spouse or partner, or the ferocious love for a newborn.

Both loving God and loving other people are vital parts of the Christian journey, wherever we find ourselves on that road. We pray that God will help us to be loving in our very nature and in the way we speak and act. But the direction of all this is outwards ….. from us, out to others or out to God. Therefore the felt pressure to get it right is somehow on us as individuals or as a church.

Just for a moment I want to turn it all upside down …….

So there’s no pressure, no feelings of “ought” or “should try harder” but rather an invitation to stop, to be still, to cease trying to prove anything, to halt the good intentions and instead just hold out empty hands to receive something special……..

God is Love (I John 4:16)   That is his very nature.

He says to each of us,

“You are precious and honoured in my sight and I love you “   (Isaiah 43: 3) and promises “my unfailing love for you will not be shaken” (Isaiah 54:10) 

The writer of Psalm 143 knew this amazing love and addressed God in this way

“let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love

Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life”.

Could that be our experience at the start of each new day? That we awake and just lie back in the knowledge that we are loved by the Creator of the universe, and that His love will never ever fail? That we step into each and every day, knowing we are ferociously loved?

The Apostle Paul caught a glimpse of the enormity of this love when he wrote that there is nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8: 39)

This is cosmic, far grander than any mortal romance. It is total, passionate, enduring, unconditional, eternal love.

In the 14th century a young female mystic Julian of Norwich tried to put into words what she believed God was showing her. She wrote:

“There is no creature that is made that can know how much and how sweetly and how tenderly our Creator loves us”.

“I saw that God never BEGAN to love us, for just as we will be in everlasting joy, so also we have ALWAYS been in God’s foreknowledge, known and loved from the beginning.”

So, despite whatever might be going on in our lives at the moment, despite our doubts and our failings, despite our tendency to be self-critical, we are loved. God doesn’t say he will love us if we serve him, or get things right. He just says “I love you, I always have and I always will.” That love was evidenced not in the sending of a card or a bunch of flowers, but in the sending of Jesus to die for us. That love is still evidenced in the day by day sending of the Holy Spirit to encourage, guide and transform us.

May we open our eyes each morning and thank God for that love, and bask in it .  My prayer for each person reading or listening is this,  that “you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how high and long and wide and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fulness of God.” (Ephes. 3:17 – 19) Amen.

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Revd Anne Roberts

ReSource Minister

Meet Revd Anne
 Testimonial

"I personally liked the moments of prayer, it really felt as if we were collectively being guided in our discussions. I also enjoyed the informal nature where we could draw on our own experiences and open up what was in our hearts."
Attendee at St Martin’s, Herne online retreat