The Love of God

This reflection was given by our ALM Carol at our service of Holy Communion for the 6th Sunday of Easter. It is based on these texts:

Acts 10. 44-end

1 John 5. 1-6

John 15. 9-17

Welcome into the house of the Lord this morning! Today’s worship is based on the Gospel of John chp 15 and is about making ourselves at home with God. Abide in me, love one another as I have loved you, I chose you! Three important phrases from the Gospel all bound together by the love of God.

Abide: Last week Rev. Deborah gave us some definitions from the dictionary, today I think about Remain, Stay, Dwell. All associated with home or dwelling place. This reminds me of the last line of the song Love Leadeth Me, based on Psalm 23, sung by Maggies Music Makers recently, “In God’s house forever more my dwelling place shall be, my dwelling place shall be” Let us think about what ‘making yourself at home with God’ means to you and me.

Is it making a cup of tea and sitting down to have a nice chat?

Is it kicking your shoes off and curling up on the sofa with a book?

Is it going for a stroll in the garden or having a kick about on the lawn?

Is it opening a couple of beers and settling down to watch the football?

I have recently been reading a book called Occasions for Alleluia by David Adam. This is about making time to stop and rest in God, abiding in His presence. One way to stop everything you are doing is to make a cup of tea, sit and rest awhile, abide in God’s love. On your chair this morning you will have found a tea bag. At some point during the coming week, use this to make yourself a cup of tea, take a break and sit down to spend some time chatting with God. Tell him about all the things that are on your mind right now – all the things that may be stopping you relaxing in his presence and concentrating on what he wants to say to you. Rest awhile in God’s love for you.

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love, said Jesus, adding “My command is this: Love one other as I have loved you

Oh, if only that were true in this world of ours! That’s not what we see in our newspapers or on the TV news. We don’t really seem to live in a world where people think of others first – it’s quite a selfish culture at present. And yet Jesus demands that of us. And why? Because that’s what he showed to us and to all of humankind on that first Easter. Jesus laid down the supreme example of what love really is, and then invites humankind to think likewise – that love sometimes means sacrifice and sacrificial giving to others.

Jesus chose us we did not choose him – but chosen for what? One thing we are chosen for is love. He calls us to be his friends, and then goes on to expand this statement to his disciples “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business, but, I have called you friends” What an emotional statement this is.

It means that God is not some far-away distant deity who we have to go some roundabout way to get access to. We are called the friends of the King and we have access to him. That’s why we can hear his whisper when he calls to us, and why we can pray to him knowing that he hears us. Friends are people you can see and talk to whenever you wish not having to make an appointment as if you were a servant. Being a friend of Jesus means you can call on him anytime day or night. He is always there.

This passage only reinforces what we’ve been thinking about in John’s Gospel, namely that love of God and love of humankind are inseparable – you can’t have the one without the other. John goes a little deeper here and relates it to family life. It’s a natural thing for children to love their parents, we’re created to have that bond. And the love between brothers and sisters should also be a natural thing – it’s the family unit that God ordained, and although humans mess things up at times, it’s still the perfect model when it works.

So John says if that’s how it works in the natural family then that’s how it should work in the spiritual family. Just as we love the heavenly father so we should love his children who he considers to be part of his family. And that of course is where it often falls down, because we are after all only human and there are lots of people out there that we naturally don’t get on with particularly well – they say things we don’t like, or look odd, or have different interests to us, their behaviour is less than we would call acceptable…

And yet John says that God’s commands are not burdensome or heavy, not too difficult for us to carry out in our daily lives. The great truth about anything God asks of us is that they are all possible. No loving father asks of his children to do the impossible. What God asks, he also provides the strength to do. Jesus said “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” In our own life what this means is that if we are acting out of love then we are prepared to go that extra mile, stretch ourselves a little to help someone who needs our help. And what we find is that what started as a burden is in fact no burden at all, it becomes a joy. It is not a burden it is love, love for one another that prompts us to do this.

Jesus says “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”

For many of us, activity and busyness come naturally. We’re on the go, we’re in a hurry, it’s what we’re all about. We seem to be rewarded for how much we can accomplish, especially in short amounts of time. We live in a culture that praises movement, that places value on the busy. We tend to get impatient with those who are too slow about anything. Nothing wrong being active or on the go. Except for this one thing. We often never stop.

And it’s there – in the slowing down – that often can feel almost unnatural, in a society that moves too fast. Like we’re supposed to be doing something more but just haven’t figured it out yet. Every day we meet people who are burdened, weary, or lonely. Sometimes we may notice, but many times we don’t. We’re just too busy or overwhelmed ourselves. And to be honest, many days, “we” are those people – the burdened, the weary, the lonely. Just needing someone to notice. To slow down. To take time.

We desperately need Jesus every day, to bring joy and hope to our own lives and to those around us. Without Him, we will most certainly run dry. For we’re not meant to run on our own, our strength can’t carry us through every hard struggle and hardship we may encounter. But He promises rest and peace for our souls even in the midst of weariness and burdens. Slowing down takes work. Stopping and just breathing deep – takes practice. Maybe that’s why God says it so clearly, “Be still and know that I am God.” Breathing in His grace today. And remembering to take time to slow down… Have that cuppa!

We pray Dear God,

Thank you that your yoke is easy and your burden is light. Thank you that you promise to give the worried, the hurried, the pressured, and stressed out – rest and peace for our souls – if we’ll just come before you. Thank you that you already know all that concerns us, and you care. We’re so grateful for your reminder that we don’t have to carry it all on our own. Help us to slow down, to take the time, to point others to you. To love one another as you have loved us. Amen

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