Our Fathers’ Day

benefits-of-mustard-seeds1

3rd Sunday after Trinity, Proper 6 Year B

Readings

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13

2 Corinthians 5:6-10,[11-13],14-17

Mark 4:26-34

Sermon

To all the Fathers, Happy Fathers’ day!

We will be looking at what it means to be a father and to call God, Father

Since I have been ordained, people that I don’t know have started calling me Father – which is a bit disconcerting, especially when they are an 80 year widow!

What is a father?  Well at one level it is a biological matter – please bear in mind that I did Greek not biology …

The ancients believed that the father provided the seed the spark of life– in Greek that’s sperma – which literally means seed – those who did biology will know what I mean

When we call God father we express the fact that the spark of life – that remarkable gift – comes from something before us – long before us

We heard in our Gospel reading:

The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how

This line of scripture sums up the extraordinary ability of the created world to grow- to multiply, develop and become more sophisticated ‘we know not how’

Growth is embodied in God’s creation

From the tiniest of mustard seeds

With what can we compare the kingdom of God?  It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

Here we have some mustard seeds [click here] – see how small they are (1 mm diameter) – bear in mind that you came from something which is 0.05mm – a twentieth the size of that

This story of miraculous growth is my experience of being a father

One minute you’re being told you’re going to have a baby and then before you know it this is what you’ve got

[two sons come forward]

In our old Testament lesson

Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?”

Yes they are!

Fathers plant the seeds from which the plant grows

Can you see something of the father in these two?

I hope so

What does that tell us about God the father?

That within us – as children of God – there is something of the Father – the seed from which we grow – the divine spark lies within each of us

Then when the children grow you have to decide how to discipline them

My father was brought up by a Victorian father – there was a lot of discipline and corporal punishment

He tried to make his son in his own image

My own father started in the same way – with a cane

Like this one – but with a split in it

But he gave it up – it wasn’t him and it certainly wasn’t doing us any good

He learned – as we all have to learn – that whilst it is the role of a father to make rules and set boundaries – the ultimate act of love is to let go

St Paul writes about how God gave up his power in order to get closer to humanity – to become human

Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,

    did not regard equality with God

    as something to be exploited,

but emptied himself,

    taking the form of a slave,

    being born in human likeness.

And being found in human form,

    he humbled himself

    and became obedient to the point of death—

    even death on a cross.

God humbled himself to become human

Becoming human means getting involved in the love business and that love has a cost – love entails sacrifice

In the ancient world there was no greater sacrifice than losing a son, especially the first born son – that is the story of Abraham and Isaac – that is the story of God the Father and Jesus the son

God so loved the world that he gave his only son so that those who believe in him should not perish but have everlasting life…

It turns out that being a Father is not about Old testament discipline but about that New Testament sacrificial love

  • picking them up from parties at 2 o’clock in the morning,
  • taking an interest in dinosaurs even in late middle age
  • even listening to musical theatre in the car (she isn’t here)

Forgiving everything

Loving un-conditionally

Jesus taught us to think of God in terms of that intimacy

You will see we are surrounded by our prayer stations of the Lord’s Prayer

The first words of the Lord’s prayer express something profoundly important

“Our Father”

Father because we have that same intimacy

‘Our’ because our relationship with God is universal

Whoever our earthly father may be, “Our Father which art in heaven” binds us all with a common familial bond

Because we all have one father we are all brothers and sisters

Made new in our commonality in God

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

The message of Jesus is that we think about ourselves and God in a new way

That we think about God as our father in three ways

  • as the life giver whom we thank for our creation – “hallowed be his name”
  • the disciplinarian who let’s go and leaves free to make our own mistakes and “forgives us our trespasses” if and when we fail
  • the common denominator in everything we do, the origin of all, the eternal and everlasting

For thine is the Kingdom the Power and the Glory, for ever and ever.  Amen

Sermon delivered by Chris Hancock at St. Mary’s Headley, on Father’s Day, 17th June, 2018

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Exploring the Holy Trinity – by way of the cross

Image result for welby blessing with the sign of the cross

Readings:

Isaiah 6:1-8

Romans 8:12-17

John 3:1-17

 

Sermon

It is not uncommon on Trinity Sunday to duck this most difficult area of Christian doctrine – but I will do my best to explore this mystery – of how three things, three persons,  can be one – without in any way trying to remove its mysteriousness.

By way of preamble, I was taught in pre-ordination training, that all talk about God (i.e. all theology) is necessarily provisional, because it is in the nature of God that God can never be fully known or comprehended by the human imagination

But what can we say?

Well in terms of the bible especially in John’s Gospel and the writings of St Paul we have a linear depiction of the Trinity

God sends Jesus who sends the Holy Spirit

“As the father has sent me so I am sending you.  When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” (Jn 20:21)

At the meeting with Nicodemos described in our Gospel reading, Jesus tells how we too can become involved in this story of special relationship  with God – Jesus says:

Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 

‘Water and spirit’ – Ie through Baptism – through following in the footsteps of Christ

Notice how at Baptism we have all three persons of the Trinity present – Jesus, the Holy Spirit like a dove and the voice of God

And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Mt 3:16-17)

How is this possible?  Three in one – simultaneously

There are several models which can help to explain this

First, the three states of matter – water is still water when it is Water, when it is Ice and when it is water vapour (steam).

Surely this is a good model of how the Trinity works?

In fact this is a heresy (Modalism).  It misses out the important point that God is not the same as Man nor yet the same as the Spirit

Moreover, it is important that Jesus has not just the appearance of a man – that God actually was Man.

So, if it is important that there is difference between God and Man and Spirit how about three different things united in one thing.

Like in a Mars Bar – the exterior chocolate and the interior nougat and caramel

Alas, this is also heretical as it suggests that the three are in some way separate – it separates God from Christ and from the spirit – this is the heresy of Tritheism

But it is important that it was not just the human part of God that suffered with us – lifted up like the snake in the desert

That God did die on the cross and man did rise from the dead

All models of the trinity end up being heretical because they don’t quite express the truth as described in Christian Doctrine which places the Trinity in a paradox.  And that is a good sign as we find that God operates at the level of paradox and so ‘passeth all understanding’.

There is another model in this vein which I think takes us in interesting direction.

That actually we take God and Jesus and the Holy spirit into ourselves and they are mixed in us at the Eucharist

The Eucharistic elements mirror the Trinity

Bread – wine – water

Father – son – holy spirit

These three come together when mixed in us in holy communion.

So we can say that the Trinity is brought together and made especially present in both of the key sacraments – in Baptism and in Holy Communion.

What about the other major sacraments – absolution, anointing, marriage ?

There is another model which helps with these as they are marked by making the sign of the cross

The cross itself is a model of the Trinity.

It begins with a vertical line from Heaven to Earth

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.’

There is a great irony here of a man being lifted up to die who himself came down from heaven.

At the last, on the cross, the elements of the Trinity – body, blood and spirit are combined:

 After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture), ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth.  When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:28-30)

There is even the addition of sour wine to complete the Eucharistic parallel

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (Jn 3:16-17)

The father the Son and the Holy Spirit are joined together on the cross – in suffering

And that is the message that all three writers give us in our readings

The coal of Isaiah burns us – the way of the Spirit is not a way of bliss but of suffering service

Paul teaches us that the inheritance that we have with Christ through following on the way is the way of the cross is to be children of God

And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Rm 8:15-16)

So we meet God on the cross

In our suffering

And in particular in our self-sacrificial, redemptive suffering for the sake of others

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”

And so when we make the sign of the cross –  in blessing –in sanctifying, in simply living sacrificially – we unite all these things in our lives

And there is great power in this – when God and Man and Spirit unite

God the Father – the creator of all – the power of the rushing wind of creation (up)

Who came down to earth and became human in God the son, our Lord Jesus Christ (down) and

Who is with us always, uniting us in the power of his holy spirit which brings life and love to all (across and side to side)

Amen

Sermon given by Christopher Hancock at St Andrew’s, Box Hill on Trinity Sunday, 2018

 

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Come on Baby light my fire – Sermon for Pentecost

 

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God, who as at this time
taught the hearts of your faithful people
by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit:
grant us by the same Spirit
to have a right judgement in all things
and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort;
(Collect for Whitsunday)

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth (16: 13)

Our collect and readings morning are all about knowledge:

Let us investigate what is this knowledge – first,  the Spirit of Truth, what is this Holy Spirit?

We hear that it comes as wind and fire

And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting

The Wind – the breath – the spirit of the Lord – is the spirit of creation

Remember Genesis Chapter 1

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

In Greek it is pneuma – a violent force like a pneumatic drill

In Latin it is spiritus – the  whisper which is the breath of life – respiration and the last breath when we die we expire

But in Hebrew it is ruach – a word which encapsulates all the wonder of the creator of this vast and remarkable universe – ‘ruach

So if the wind is the creative power of God what of the fire?

Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 

The fire is the fire of the burning bush of Moses direct, personal encounter with God – face to face

‘Divided tongues’ because it is a personal experience

In Greek it is diamerizomenai – the holy spirit is shared out – apportioned – there is something for everyone – personal to them

and unlike Moses this fire rests on them – there is personal contact

So the writer of acts makes it clear that this is the power of God – a direct and personal encounter with God

And what did Jesus say about the holy spirit?

In the Gospel of John, Jesus promises that he will send you the paraclete – variously translated as the comforter – the advocate

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate,  to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. (Jn 14:16)

Something which will support them in the way that Jesus has supported them when he was alive

And then when it does come it comes as the breath of Christ himself

Jn 20:21. 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

and what happens to the disciples?

They suddenly start speaking other languages

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

The spirit has moved from fire to breath in language

Each in his or her own language

They had discovered how to tell the story of God’s love as revealed in Jesus Christ

They now had the wit to do this – that is why this Sunday is called Whitsunday  – not because of white but because of the spirit of truth that imparts knowledge  – ‘wit’

What might that mean for us?

I believe that the message of Pentecost is that each of us can know God directly and personally through the breath of Christ, through his message – his word – through his spirit.

That God speaks to us each in our own language

Especially when we gather together as the body of Christ as the apostles did on that feast of Pentecost – the Jewish festival of the first fruits

Not only that but also we can speak about God directly and personally and validly based on our own personal experience.

That we should speak to people in their own language of God

When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify

You also are to testify!

Those of us who heard the Most Reverend Michael B Curry at Harry and Megan’s wedding yesterday will know what it means to testify in your own way, using your own divided tongue of fire.  He spoke in his own way for a total of 13 minutes and 43 seconds

But what he said could be said much more succinctly

God is love
God is the transforming power of love
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them ((1 John 4:16)

Pentecost was the Festival of the First fruits

Remember, Bishop Jo told us that we would bear fruit if we were attached to the vine – Jesus said

Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.

The coming of the Holy Spirit is the first fruit of that love – the birth of the church

Our diocese is calling in us to Transform – to bear fruit

Ourselves –  our churches:  ‘Transforming Church, Transforming lives.’

The only way we will do that is by abiding in God’s love

By living lives dedicated to the transforming power of love

So let us receive the Holy Spirit anew this Pentecost

That we so know God’s love that we are transformed by it

That we have the Courage to speak our faith, in our language – what it means to us to know God – to be loved by God to love other people:  That would be fruit indeed!

Philip Larkin wrote a poem based on the weddings that traditionally happen on this ‘Whitsunday’, the Whitsun Weddings.   The poem tells how a railway carriage on its way to London fills up at each stop with newly married couples on their way to their honeymoons, as it nears its destination he says

What it held
Stood ready to be loosed with all the power that being changed can give.  (Whitsun Weddings by Philip Larkin)

So let ourselves be changed – transformed that we too may have ‘all the power that being changed can give’

Shaken, stirred, roused, enthused, inspired – full of wit – like those first apostles – who went from being frightened, confused, ignorant, leaderless and directionless to found the church whose birth we celebrate today.

But above all else – as we meet with God in the sharing out of bread and wine – we pray for a deeper encounter and a better knowledge of the God of love through Jesus Christ who is the spirit of all truth.

That he abide in us and we abide in him

Amen

Sermon delivered by Christopher Hancock at St. Mary’s Headley, on the Feast of Whitsun, 20th May, 2018

 

Sermon delivered by Christopher Hancock at St. Mary’s He

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Prayer station 5. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil

compass

Why would God lead us into temptation?  If you find yourself wondering this then you are in good company as Henry VIII was so offended by the idea that he believed it must have been a mistake in the text of the Bible.

But ‘lead us not into temptation’ might be understood as lead us away from temptation.

Another way to think about this is that the word for ‘temptation’ (peirasmon) is the same as that used to describe Satan’s tempting Jesus in the wilderness.

We are asking God to lead us through the wilderness of our own lives and to protect us from the evil into which we can so easily fall.

Actions

These are all things which we can use to guide us through wilderness

  • The torch (representing the light of Christ) – you have to keep the batteries fresh
  • The Compass representing prayer – NB it only works if you hold it still
  • The bible – the word of God – why not try reading it?

 

Thoughts for prayer

  • Pray for areas of your life where you need guidance
  • Focus on Christ as the light of the world and ask
  • Pray for a greater reading of the Bible
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4. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us

sin bin

It you look up the Lord’s prayer in the Bible you will see that words we know as trespasses are not in either account.  Matthew 6:12 has ‘debts’ (literally things which are owed, obligations) while the word trespasses (transgressions, overstepping the mark) occurs a little later, in  verse 14.  In Luke’s version there is both the word for sin (hamartia – literally meaning falling short of the mark, ie a failing) and the word for debt.

 

So, when we ask for forgiveness we can have all of these thoughts in mind:

  • Debts: The things we ought to have done but have left undone
  • Failings: Times when we have fallen short of the standard which is expected of us
  • Trespasses: times when we have strayed – when we have trespassed on other people’s property, other people’s feelings

This verse has a marked reciprocity

  • It is as important to accept forgiveness as it is to accept fault
  • It is as importance to forgive as it is to repent and seek forgiveness

 

Action

Write the name of a person from whom you seek forgiveness on one side of the Post-it and on the other write a person whom you want to forgive

Alternatively write the sin you want forgiven and a sin you want to forgive

Then tear up the paper and put it the pieces in the bin!

 

Thoughts for prayer

– What are the things which you regularly find yourself doing wrong and why?

– What are the weaknesses in you which might be hiding strengths?

– Is there something for which you need help to forgive yourself?

– What are the things that you want to do but don’t?  Pray for release from whatever is stopping you

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3. Give us this day our daily bread

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The Greek word translated as ‘daily’ (epiousion) occurs nowhere else in the ancient world so its meaning is hard to determine. It seems that it literally means ‘for being’.  Bread ‘for being’ is the minimum which we need to survive ‘each day’. The Roman church translated epiousion into Latin as cotidianus or ‘every day’ with a sense of ‘not special’.  This in turn became ‘daily’.

Any mention of bread in church must make us think of the Eucharist – the far from ordinary bread –  which we normally only receive once or twice a week.

So all of these meanings can be in mind when we say these words.

 

Action – take a piece of bread or a biscuit – give thanks for the bread and for the day

 

Thoughts for prayer:

  • Give thanks for the food that we have
  • Pray for those without
  • Notice how little we actually need
  • Consider whether we could manage with less and be more grateful

 

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2. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven

Headley parish map

 

The second prayer is for the coming of God’s kingdom. One of the central questions for us during these days of the Novena, (the nine days between Ascension Day (10th May) and Pentecost (20th May) is what it means for God’s kingdom to come.

This may be thought to mean the end of the world – in which case we might prefer to pray, ‘but not not yet!’  There is a thought that rather than waiting for the end of the world, the resurrection of Christ marks the beginning of God’s kingdom on earth.  With this thought (so-called realised eschatology) the new world has begun, death has been conquered and sin washed away.  Our job as disciples of Christ and witnesses of his resurrection is to work to perfect the world – in order that ‘thy will be done’!

 

Actions:

Find your home on the map

Find the home of someone you want to pray for

May every home be a part of God’s kingdom

 

Thoughts for prayer:

  • Acknowledge God as the ruler of all the earth
  • Thank God for the rules which govern our behaviour
  • Pray that we make our village a part of that kingdom
  • Trust God and place ourselves under his love and protection

 

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1 Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name

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The prayer begins with the word ‘our’.  Whilst often prayed alone, this is at heart a prayer said in a group or on behalf of a group.  Even if we are physically alone, we pray this pray in company with the whole Christian Church throughout the world, both now and in the past and indeed in company with Jesus himself.

The group who prays is defined as those who think of God as ‘our Father’.  This is a remarkable way to talk about our relationship with the creator of the universe. It roots us in our common ancestry and common humanity. We all have earthly fathers – whether we know them or not, whether we have a good relationship with them or not.  This prayer says, regardless of your earthly Father, we have a common divine origin which unites us all in equality and in humility beneath the Father ‘which art in heaven’.

Our first prayer (petition) is that the Father’s name be hallowed.  Hallowed means kept as holy, sacred, sanctified, set apart, special – and perhaps a little bit scary!.

A name is a way which we identify something as distinct from other things.  Your name marks you out – that it is why it is on your passport, driver’s licence, credit card.  It is a shorthand for all the complexity of you as a person with a history and a network of inter-relationships.

There were many names for God in the Old Testament.  The most important, the divine name, was four Hebrew letters YHWH (the tetragrammaton) which were probably pronounced Yahweh and literally meant ‘I am.  It places God at the heart of all being – the first, the essential and the ultimate ‘being’ in the universe.  This name for God was thought to be so holy – so hallowed – that it could not be said out loud.

There is then a striking contrast between the intimacy of calling God ‘father’ and the reverence of not daring to speak his name.  The implication of the prayer is not that we choose between them but hold them both as true.

 

Thoughts for prayer:

  • Acknowledge God as the ultimate father
  • Thank God for our creation
  • Pray that we may be worthy to be called his children
  • Place ourselves under God’s love and protection
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The Lord’s Prayer stations at St Mary’s

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Introduction

We have set up 6 prayer stations in St Mary’s church to help focus on the Lord’s Prayer.

At each station you will find a written reflection and some objects to help you think about this very important prayer

The Lord’s prayer is so called because it is the prayer which Jesus himself taught us.

You can read it in the Gospel of Matthew 6:9-13 and in Luke 11:2-4

 

Action

Look at the prayers in the Bible – how are they different from what we know?

 

Luke 11:2-4 (New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised)

2 He said to them, ‘When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be your name.

    Your kingdom come.

3     Give us each day our daily bread.

4     And forgive us our sins,

        for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.

              And do not bring us to the time of trial.’

 

Matthew 6:9-13 (New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised)

9 ‘Pray then in this way:

Our Father in heaven,

    hallowed be your name.

10     Your kingdom come.

    Your will be done,

        on earth as it is in heaven.

11     Give us this day our daily bread.

12     And forgive us our debts,

        as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13     And do not bring us to the time of trial,

        but rescue us from the evil one.

 

The version which we use in the Church of England is based on Matthew’s slightly longer version with an extra section (doxology) at the end.

For thine is the Kingdom the Power and the Glory, for ever and ever. Amen

 

If you look carefully the prayer consists of 7 separate prayers or petitions

It can be seen to contain each of the following types of prayer

  • Adoration (worship)
  • Confession (saying sorry)
  • Thanksgiving
  • Supplication (requests)

For this and many reasons it is the central prayer of the Christian church.

Another important type of prayer is listening to God, so feel free to listen to the prayer anew and feel free to think your own thoughts

I hope you enjoy praying the prayer with us here today.

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Easter 6B -Let’s talk about love!

Seungri_-_Let's_Talk_About_Love

John 15:9-17

There are lots of events in the Thy Kingdom Come calendar

Lots of opportunities to pray and we read ‘The father will do whatever you ask in his name’

But what do you ask for?

What will you be praying for?

 

Well we might pray for a fulfilment of what Jesus has asked us to do in the passage we have just heard

‘This is my command – that you love one another as I have loved you’

 

What does he mean by love?

There are famously[1] four different Greek words for love.

The one John uses in this passage and most often used in the New Testament is Agape

  • Agape: the love of reciprocal relationships
    • based on the ancient rules of hospitality
    • I will entertain you on the basis that in the future I may need someone to entertain me
    • In the Old Testament we heard this exchange of covenants often repeated as ‘You will be my people and I will be your God’
    • in the New Testament the exchange is taken to another level – am unconditional level
      • God so loved the world, that he gave his only son
      • Greater love hath no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends

Agape is the normal word used for love in the New Testament – but we can see that the commandment to love takes in the other words and their meanings too

  • Philia: The love that comes from a positive disposition towards someone – the love that drives friendship
    • Hence ‘I do not call you slaves any longer – because slaves do not know the master – I call you friends’ – philoi
    • We know God through the life and teaching of Jesus Christ so our love can be Philia

 

  • Storge – the love between a parent and child – the natural, sacrificial, unconditional love which comes from a bond of ultimate intimacy even when not of one’s choosing
    • This was the love between Jesus and God as father and son, between Jesus and Mary.
    • It is the love that we share as Children of God
    • God loves us – is connected with us – because he made us

 

  • Eros – the physical passion which drives us from deep within

There has been lots in the news this week about sex addiction and there is a lot in the Christian tradition which sees physical love as lesser than the other loves – even that these physical acts are inherently bad

Indeed, love is more than sex, and not all sex is born of love

Any addiction is what happens when someone’s personal needs or desires become focused on a particular behaviour which satisfies them – but then it is not reciprocal, afiliative or creative

Eros is the creative love between people who are passionate about something

  • Love that is the life force within us – the desire to create together – the love that comes from being an incarnate, physical being – giving birth to a child or indeed to a project like our Church Extension plan
  • It is the creative drive which God shares with us
    • ‘Let us make human kind in our image’ (Genesis 1)
    • ‘And so God formed man from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life’ – pretty physical! (Genesis 2)
    • It is the same physical emotion which Jesus felt when he witnessed suffering – ot the blind, the lame, the poor, the bereaved – when his guts were twisted within him and he was moved to heal them.
    • Of course, it is also the divine fire of Pentecost

It can be seen that Love is relationship in all these ways

  • Reciprocal and sacrificial – Agape
  • Intimate – Storge
  • Love for who we are – Philia
  • Love that drives us to create or heal – Eros

The image of the Vine from last week makes the point that all of these loves are about connection – and are strengthened through connection to God through Jesus.

Do you have a problem with Jesus?

It seems odd to say that to Christians, but a lot of contemporary church leaders talk continually about ‘Jesus’ –  ‘meeting Jesus’, ‘knowing Jesus’, letting Jesus into your heart’.  We will hear a lot about that in the TKC Season.  Sometimes that leaves me feeling a little cold.

I have no doubt that some people have a personal relationship with Jesus such that they speak about Him as a personal friend or neighbour.  But if, like me, you struggle a little with that, then this is what I do.

I think: what is Jesus?  Jesus is the physical embodiment of the love of God for humanity.  Jesus is God and God is love

  • Reciprocal and sacrificial
  • Genuine and knowable
  • Intimate and incarnate
  • Creative and healing

And so when I hear someone talk about Jesus in this way:

  • Do you know Jesus
  • Have you met Jesus?
  • Have you let Jesus into your heart

Then I think – oh, you mean, ‘Do I know the love of God as revealed in Jesus Christ?’.

So I able to answer, yes I do know the love of God as revealed in Jesus Christ.  Yes I have met that in life!

Yes.  I have acknowledged that deep within me and it drives me, it motivates and sustains me

So – yes – I do know Jesus and so yes, I am a Christian (thank heavens for that!)

So what should we be praying for?  Thy Kingdom Come?

We should indeed be praying for people to meet Jesus and build up the kingdom in the way that I have described – through a relationship with the source of all love

More than this, I believe that we should all be praying for all our relationships

  • That they be:
    • Reciprocal and sacrificial – agape
    • Genuine and knowing- philia
    • Intimate and incarnate – storge
    • Creative and healing – eros

So that they bear fruit

There are lots of events in the Thy Kingdom Come calendar in the Parish:

  • Ascension Day service at the Lookout on Box Hill on Thursday
  • Beating the Bounds on 12th May
  • Prayer Event / Beacon Lighting on 19th
  • Pentecost event in Guildford on Sunday 20th
  • Daily Prayers – morning and evening each day of the Novena – the 9 days between Ascension and Pentecost

All of these are opportunities to deepen our relationships with God and one another

  • Beating the Bounds – we literally embrace the parish by walking around it – meeting people we don’t see in Church
  • The Ascension Day service – with our friends from the Benefice and our neighbours in the church of England from Dorking and Leatherhead
  • The Pentecost event in Guildford – our diocese – our bishops – our Cathedral
  • Our benefice Prayer Event / Beacon Lighting at St Mary’s – linking up with Christians throughout the UK and the world – also linking up with those first Christians in Jerusalem and the fire of Pentecost

 

  • Most importantly: in Daily Prayers:
    • Our time with God – together or alone
    • An opportunity to take the time to think about our relationships – especially the difficult ones – and how we can improve them

‘One commandment I give to you – as I have loved you, love one another.’

‘I chose you and appointed you that you bear Fruit’

Let us pray to the one who is the True Vine to help our relationships bear fruit.

Amen

[1] See “The Four Loves” by CS Lewis

Sermon given by Rev Christopher Hancock at St Mary’s Headley, 6th May, 2018.

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