Ministry Musings are also included on the latest pewsheet

More Ministry Musings for February 2019

The cold, gloomy winter months often encourage us to find ways of cheering ourselves up, using any excuse to ‘celebrate.’ February of course brings Valentine’s Day, a time to celebrate love, traditionally an occasion on which it’s said ‘a young man’s fancy turns to love.’ Perhaps, like me, you would dispute the idea that love is merely for the young and certainly not just for young men! Theirs may be the romantic love of Valentine’s Day, but love is so important in the lives of us all whatever our age or gender.

This set me thinking about the bible passage so often heard at marriage services – from 1 Corinthians, chapter 13. The writer, St Paul, has been considering how we should seek to live as followers of Jesus, using whatever God-given gifts and talents we have. Then he claims that these giftings are nothing if they are used without love, and Paul goes on to define this love …

‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.’

It’s easy to be caught up in the beauty of these words, thinking ‘Yes’, that is how love should be, but I’m horribly aware that applying them to my own ways of living and loving, I would fall abysmally short on many counts! It’s a challenging exercise to consider each aspect of love, in the light of our own lifestyle.

Am I patient? Am I kind? Am I never envious, boastful or proud? Am I never rude or self-seeking? Do I never get unreasonably angry or bear any grudges? Do I gossip, or do I always check out the stories I hear before passing them on? And how about protecting and trusting those I love? Do I keep my hopes alive, and keep persevering when things don’t work out the way I hope? How often do I fail those who rely on me? And how often do I fail my Saviour, the One who loves me despite all my shortcomings?

Trying to live out this kind of love is one of the attributes of Christians. Inevitably we shall fall short, but we need to keep Jesus’ teaching constantly in mind, and follow the example of his perfect love.

As so often the poets who write hymns and songs of worship seem to manage to put ideas into memorable forms, so maybe some of the words of this song, by an unknown author, help to express the impact of Jesus’ commandment to love one another.

A new commandment
I give unto you,
That you love one another
As I have loved you.
By this shall all men know
That you are My disciples,
If you have love one for another.

May your lives be filled with love, given and received.