26th March 2017
Revd. Cheryl Collins
Although we don’t need to keep warm anymore I thought it would be good if we incorporated some exercise into the service, so, taking account of your own physical fitness please, let’s stand and sing a little song
Please sit down, we’ll come back to that later
How do we know what love is?
We know because we see it demonstrated by others
Babies are inherently selfish- the will to survive means we’re not very good at thinking beyond ourselves and we let everyone know when we don’t get what we want- Cry- hungry-cry-wet nappy-cry- need entertaining- cry-me, me, me
Babies learn what love is from their parents and one of the things we’re here to celebrate today is that love- specifically the love of a mother
Motherly love is self-giving, we put our own needs aside to show our love for someone else and we do this simply because we love them
Some of you may remember the rather cheesy song, from a good few years ago, where the teenager tried to charge his Mum for helping her with the chores and in response she listed all the things she had done for him and continued to do and finished up by singing
‘When you add it all up, the full cost of my love’s No charge’
As we grow up, our parents teach us all the ways that as human societies we’ve learnt to work together and to think of others as well as ourselves.
We learn good manners, we learn road safety and when we learn to drive the Highway Code, we learn the school rules, the laws of our country and even international law which tries to make sure we show people on the other side of the world the same respect and care we show those who live next door.
At the heart of much law is the understanding that everyone deserves to be treated as a human being- we cannot use others to get what we want at their expense- though while there is unfair trade, exploitation, starvation and a refusal to see refugees as people like us we can see this is still a work in progress.
But we can still say that the example we are aspiring to is that of the ethic which is at the heart of much religious teaching- love your neighbour as yourself, do unto others what you would have them do unto you
So far, so good, it’s time for another round of the Hokey cokey
We’ve said that the love of a mother cannot be part-time
But the weakness of motherly love is other people’s children
Because our love for our own children can mean we act in their interests in a way that harms the interests of other children- two words, private education
So, when it comes to love, the example of mothers only takes us so far
What we need is someone capable of loving everyone uniquely but equally
What we need is someone like God
We are all God’s children, and God longs for the flourishing not just of one group but of all human beings and indeed the whole created world- God’s kingdom is one where we all live in harmony with one another
So, God models the love that God wants us to give
And, seeing that we’re slow learners, God so loved the world that he sent his only Son to show us what love looks like in human form
Jesus’s life was about giving himself away
Every day he connected with the Father so that he could give himself away in what he said and in what he did
Jesus shows us what God’s love is like- self-emptying
Jesus didn’t just love on Sundays, or within his own family, or within his own tribe. Again and again, Jesus showed us that God’s love knows no boundaries.
He showed there was no boundary that left women outside
No boundary that left those who were ill, either physically or mentally outside
No boundary that left those who had made mistakes outside
No boundary that left children outside
No boundary that left Gentiles outside
God’s love has no boundaries
Jesus loved with his whole life
His heart was completely in tune with the heart of God and so he lived generosity as a way of life
He even broke boundaries in today’s story. It comes after those who were afraid of Jesus and his loving had asked three questions to try and trick him.
Now he is asked another question and it is a good question so he answers it.
But the question is asked by a member of the group that is trying to trick Jesus, a Scribe.
And instead of pointing to this man and saying that he is not living out the commandments he is quoting, Jesus tells him, you are not far from God’s kingdom
Jesus always moved towards other people, to let them know they are included in God’s love
He asks them to respond to God’s love by loving in their turn
He asks us to respond to God’s love by loving in our turn
And people that shared the good news of God’s love, like Paul, helped to describe what love is like, what actions, what ways of looking at people and things show our love for them.
And Paul reminds us that to bind all our thoughts and actions together there must be love. It’s what keeps everything together and completes it- makes it whole.
He speaks to the community of those who are responding to God’s love and he very thoughtfully wrote it down so that we, still part of the same community, could ponder those describing words today-kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and see whether we were really following the pattern of God’s love in our lives.
Because that is what we’re called to do- every day of the week
– In every part of our life
– With all that we have
– That’s why we’re thinking of stewardship and encouraging one another to respond to the needs of those on the other side of the world, because all that we have, symbolised by our money, can be a bit of a sticking point
– But every week when we make our offering to God for the work of serving others in God’s name the underlying message is
– No matter what we say or do, this is what we think of you
So, now it’s time to stand and sing one last chorus of our song and ask ourselves the question
‘Are we ready to put our whole selves in and love God as God loves us?
It’s time to do the hokey cokey with God