Reflection on Love
St Peter’s Takapuna, 20th February 2011
The Revd Anna Lindsey - Priest Assistant
1Cor 3:10-11, 16-23 Matthew5:38-48
Our sermon time today is a reflection on love and it comes in 2 parts with an opportunity for personal reflection in each part. The first part is a poetic meditation on God’s love for us and the second part is a reflection on how we might as individuals respond.
Part One – God’s love
But first let me tell you how much God loves you.
It is easy 2000 years later to regard the Cross as dead wood representing a life-less religion. And it is easy, even if you’ve had a faith for many years, to like the idea of God’s love for you but not to feel it- yes, it is easy for all of us to go about our daily lives, and even come to church, feeling that God is far away.
And yet the Bible readings we heard today tell us that God’s love is not just near us but actually within us. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells within you…..you belong to Christ.” Right now you are intermingled with God – God knows you and loves you with an intimate, immediate, abundant love. And I’d like to invite you to spend a few moments meditating on how much God loves you: listen to the poem twice, slowly and allow the words to become part of you. Allow yourself to feel and know that love.
The Eternal Lover
You are looking in the wrong direction!
I am not two thousand years distant
but right here beside you,
my shoulder against your shoulder,
my hand resting on the back of your neck,
my breath mixed with yours
in the same moment.
How could you miss me?
Forget the history and politics
that make truth small.
They are not important enough
to be pursued or rejected.
Turn with the eyes of your heart and see who has not left your side
since your soul took human journey.
Say my name in our own secret language
and remember what we have always been
to each other.
Lean on me, Beloved.
Trust to die into my love Joy Cowley
Time of Reflection
Part Two – Our Response
So how do we, that’s you and I, respond to a love given as freely and joyously as God loves us? Well, when Jesus lived on earth and died on the Cross he reminded us that love is a verb – love requires action. And our Bible readings today are full of suggestions as to how we might act lovingly.
During our second time of reflection I’m inviting you to consider how you can respond to God’s unconditional, unending love through action. You may be at a time in your life when you need to act in a loving way to yourself -–that is so often the way God wishes we would respond – with self love. Maybe you need to be gentle with yourself, to expect less of yourself – to give yourself treats. Or you maybe you are at a stage in your faith where you feel you need to take a step forward, to make a conscious effort to spend more personal time in God’s company. Or you may feel able to do something more for a friend or neighbour. Or you may realise that you could take a step towards mending a relationship. Maybe you could simply pray for yourself and one other person everyday this week.
Theresa of Avilla, who was a very cool woman, said that the only hands God has on earth are our hands – now you will have noticed that you were given 2 hands when you came into church this morning and, while Barry plays us something beautiful, I’m going to invite you to respond to God by writing on each hand, one or more loving action that you can take. In this way the paper hands become representations of our hands: our actions. And then, in your own time,I invite you to bring those hands up to the Cross where with God’s love intermingled with our love we will turn dead wood into something alive with love.
Time of reflection.
The cross is now covered with your paper hands and we, with God’s love and our love, have created a tree of life. Amen
Please remain seated for a time of prayer.
Loving God, I come into your presence so aware of my human frailty and yet overwhelmed by your love for me. I thank you that there is no human experience that I might walk through where your love cannot reach me. If I climb the highest mountain you are there and yet if I find myself in the darkest valley of my life, you are there. Teach me today to love you more. Help me to rest in that love that asks nothing more than the simple trusting heart of a child. In Jesus name, Amen
God of Light and Truth,
thank you for giving me a mind that can know and a heart that can love.
Help me to keep learning every day of my life, for all knowledge leads to you.
Let me be aware of your presence in all things and at all times.
Encourage me when life is difficult and when I am tempted to give up;
encourage me when my life seems hard and the way forward is difficult.
Grant me the grace to put my trust in you and to be confident of your enfolding love .
Guide me with your light to bring your love to my world.