Vicar's Letter February
Do you know this passage from The Bible?
‘Love is patient, Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self – seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.’
It’s often read at weddings. It’s a poem about love written by St Paul to the churches in Corinth around AD55. The poem finishes with:
‘And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love’.
Considering Paul uses so much ink writing about faith and hope, it’s surprising he thinks love is the greatest virtue. But he’s right isn’t he? Love builds us up, forms our personalities as children and creates communities and families. Love needs celebrating – this is why I think Valentine’s Day should be a Red Letter Day for us all and not just for those couples wanting romance.
On Sunday 9th February we’re having a Celebration of Love Service based around the ‘Love is….’ Cartoons. There’s one, my favourite, on the advert for this service. I looked at many of Kim Casali’s cartoons before I picked this one. I realised Kim had different ideas to me about what love is. I’ve been influenced by a Christian understanding of love which says love is not a feeling, though of course it involves feelings; love is ‘doing’ - actions done for others. We believe Jesus gave the greatest display of love on the cross that we have ever seen (John 3: 16 – 17), giving his own life as a ransom for the many who would trust in him. It wasn’t that Jesus felt like bearing our sins. His love, in going to the cross, was not based upon what he felt like. Jesus certainly wasn’t in love with the idea of taking upon himself the sins of the world and prayed three times to have ‘this cup’ removed, but he knew it was the will of the Father.
In our lives we have three great resources; time, talent and treasure. Laying down one’s life for another, particularly for Christ, means we give our time, our effort and our resources. That is love in action.
In this service on 9th, I’m going to ask a variety of people to talk about their experience of ‘Love is…’ and I know some of these will be very ordinary. Love is… looking after grandchildren even when they tire us out. Love is… being opposed to war and working for pacifism, even when this is unfashionable. Love is… caring for an elderly neighbour. Love is… celebrating eight years of marriage.
If I had to ask you to give a short talk on ‘Love is…’ what would you say? Would you like to come and say it at our service? Now, there’s an offer! I’ll finish the talks with my own ‘Love is…’ I’m thinking of what or who I love. St. Paul says: ‘Love keeps no record of wrongs’; I might discuss this and how hard it is and yet so right.
Blessings - Jan
- Revd. Jan Ashton
Vicar of Hightown, Liverpool