To Love Or To Destroy

Last week, a man fanned the flames of hatred and fear around the world. Because he claimed to be a Christian, the news media gave credibility to his threats. His message and the world’s reaction screamed at us from our televisions, radios, and newspapers.. . Jesus taught love and acceptance not disrespect, destruction and violence. This man was using Christianity not being a Christian.
If the acts of love and caring done by Christians received the same media attention, maybe we could fan the flames of goodness and acceptance around the world.. So today, I offer you this quote from a conversation during a golf game last week.
A teenager, who was part of our golf foursome was having a particularly bad game. She either topped the ball or sent it flying over into the other fairway. At one point, she and I stopped to talk while we waited for our friends to hit the ball. She told me about a power point she had made for the Sunday’s service. I affirmed her willingness to give of her time and talent to our congregation. She responded, “I just love church. I love the people. I love Jean (one of our oldest members0 and Beth (one of the youngest). I love them all. They always speak to me. They’re interested in me and they’re interesting.” She smiled her dazzling smile, stepped up to her ball and swung. It sailed straight and high and true right down the middle of the fairway. “See,” she said, “I just think about church and I feel better.” My heart lifted with joy.
As Christians we’re not about condemning what others believe and trying to hurt them. As Christians we’re called to love God, our neighbours as ourselves. We gather as a church family to offer the rock of Jesus’ love as a solid foundation for life.

Jesus said, “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

Love

How Do I Love Thee? Can I Count the Ways?

It’s been a beautiful summer, a great time for outdoor weddings. Sunshine, flowers, lakes, and parks have surrounded me, as I stood with young couples anxious to pledge their love for one another. With determination, they repeated the precious words of commitment, confident that their love could survive whatever the future holds. Now that summer is over and children are heading back to school, those vows are ringing in my ears.

Traditional wedding vows include the phrase “in sickness and in health”. What does it mean to promise before God to love your spouse in sickness?  During my life as an ordained minister, I have heard many variations on the following plea:

“I need help. It’s such a struggle. His disease is making it more and more difficult for him to breathe even with the oxygen. He wants me with him 24/7, sitting at that table, the television blaring. He needs my attention so I can’t even read. I love him. I want to care for him but when am I going to do. I need to get groceries. I need some peace. I love him.”

The plight of these couples is a long way from the sunny summer day, years ago, when their wedding vows were spoken. The initial blast of emotion and hormones has long since passed.  “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” Was the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning thinking about the love we need when illness becomes all encompassing? Severe illness calls us to a depth of love that lies beyond our understanding, a love that pulls us beyond ourselves to a strength that only God can give.

God’s love for each one of us, whether we believe or not, is just that deep and strong. God’s love holds us in our darkest hours, empowering us to love as we have been loved. Jesus promised, “Lo I will be with you always, even unto the end of the age.” We can live secure in that promise.

(For more reflections by Janet Stobie go to revjantheauthor.blogspot.com)

Stop! Look! and Listen!

When my children were little, I taught them to stop, look and listen before they crossed the street. Stop, look and listen before we act, is a good motto for life. In today’s world many of us lead such overwhelmingly busy lives that we forget to stop, look and listen. For instance: We want our grocery shopping done as quickly and cheaply as possible. We don’t stop to conside what we actually need, or look at the ingredients. We don’t think we have time to listen to what our local farmers are saying.

St. Paul tells us that we need to take our everyday, ordinary life – our sleeping, eating, going to work, and walking around life, and place it before God as an offering. In essence he is saying, stop, look and listen for God’s will, every moment of your life.

Stop your rushing around. Rest for a moment. Look at the world around you. See God’s beauty in the hummingbirds at your bird feeder, the blazing sunset, the eyes of your neighbour as she asks for a cancer donation. Listen for God’s voice in the sounds of laughter, your teen’s request,and the silence of a cool, clear evening.

Stop your busy mind, that thinks it already knows what is right in every situation. Look at the person in front of you. Regardless of his race, or creed, see him as a human being like yourself with the same wants and needs. Listen to God’s call to love and care for the world.

Stop, look and listen and you will be amazed at the changes that come in you and in your life. You will find God’s peace and power to live.

Romans12

1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.