Letter from the Vicarage - June 2016
BLESSINGS FROM THE VICARAGE
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Continuing on from last month wherein I wrote about marriage, and quoted that ‘with love there is always sacrifice: when there is ‘unilateral’ sacrifice between two people embarking on a lifelong relationship with each other, or within a family or true friendship, this gives each person identity, purpose and meaning in life. Expanding this to acknowledge the bigger picture that somehow we all have to jostle alongside each other in this world (no matter how different we are), this month I share with you this different take (author unknown) on Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians, which is often the Bible reading about love that is used at weddings nowadays…
- If I live my life to perfection, doing what is right and good on behalf of others, but act with compulsion and without love, then I am nothing at all.
- If I take care of the needs of everybody in the world, especially the poor, because of my own need to help, but am without love even for myself, then I am nothing at all.
- If I am efficient and successful in all that I do for the sake of justice, but act out of driven-ness and without love, then I am nothing at all.
- If I am cultured and refined, and in touch with the pain of existence, but am absent from the pain of persons in the present moment who need my empathy; and if I act without love and compassion for them, then I am nothing at all.
- If I have the gifts of wisdom, insight, and understanding, but am not engaged with those around me in the present moment and am without a spirit of compassion and love, then I am nothing at all.
- If I am faithful, loyal, and obedient, and never deviate from the law, but am judgmental and blaming, and am without love, then I am nothing at all.
- If I live in a pain-free world of dreams and plans, enjoying optimism and pleasurable options, but am not addressing present problems and am avoiding people in actual distress and am without love for them, then I am nothing at all.
- If I am strong and powerful, but lose my best self in a spirit of resentment, retaliation, and vindictiveness, and know nothing of the vulnerability of love, then I am nothing at all.
- If I am settled and accommodating, holding onto a sense of distance and calm, but am not journeying inward to know and appreciate my weaknesses and gifts, and am neglecting my own legitimate calling to love myself, then I am nothing at all.
1 Corinthians 13:1-8 (New Testament)
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is always patient and kind;
it is never jealous;
love is never boastful or conceited;
it is never rude or selfish;
it does not take offense, and is not resentful.
Love takes no pleasure in other people's sins but delights in truth;
it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.
There seems to be a lot of ‘noise’ in the world at present. Are we being noisy gongs or clanging cymbals? Or are we slowly learning about the ‘Depth of Love’ that can change the world? We were never created to be nothing. We were created to have identity, purpose and meaning in love for each other. We were created to love because we were created in the image and love of God; therefore love and sacrifice are actually innate and intrinsic to our being. One only has to look at our makeup with all our senses to realise we are receptive, sensitive, adaptive, tactile, learning and evolving beings who have the capability to heal or hurt depending on whether we have known love or not. The Good News is even if we have not known love from others, it is already inbuilt within us and so there is always hope that we can learn and adapt to give and receive love.
We were all created in God’s image and love, with no exceptions. But in too many parts of the world there is violence, hatred, greed, persecution and oppression. So have we lost God? Yes, I think we have in those places. But the Good News is that God has not lost us and never will. Love and Light can still break into, and out of, and through those dark places.
Are we selfishly making too much ‘noise’ in order to avoid hearing God’s ‘still small voice’ that is within each one of us?
Do we want to be nothing?
Can we be quiet and let our senses listen to God?
With love and prayer,