Category Archives: peace

What Is Love?

This is my offering for today’s devotions for our circuit website.

The text is printed here for those who prefer that.

In 1983, the absolute heyday of music, Howard Jones recorded a song , whose lyrics begin

“I love you whether or not you love me
I love you even if you think that I don’t”

I think of those words when I hear today’s reading from John.  Again I am working my way through the readings suggested in The Prayer Handbook, where Jesus continues to tell his disciples all he wants them to know before he has to leave them, his way to live for when they are without his physical presence among them.

John 15:9-17 (CEV)

I have loved you, just as my Father has loved me. So remain faithful to my love for you. 10 If you obey me, I will keep loving you, just as my Father keeps loving me, because I have obeyed him.

11 I have told you this to make you as completely happy as I am. 12 Now I tell you to love each other, as I have loved you. 13 The greatest way to show love for friends is to die for them. 14 And you are my friends, if you obey me.15 Servants don’t know what their master is doing, and so I don’t speak to you as my servants. I speak to you as my friends, and I have told you everything that my Father has told me.

16 You did not choose me. I chose you and sent you out to produce fruit, the kind of fruit that will last. Then my Father will give you whatever you ask for in my name. 17 So I command you to love each other.

The chorus of Howard Jones song goes on to ask

“What is Love anyway, does anybody love anybody anyway”

A question you could ask in response to Jesus’ entreaty.  What is love?  What is Jesus asking of us?

You ask us to love,
to love each other
as you have loved us.

What does it look like
that kind of love.

Is it words
said to get what I want?
Feelings easily given
and easily taken back?
A passing fad,
loved today
forgotten tomorrow?
An emotion
wasted
on nice food,
a new tv programme,
the latest fashion?

None of those are love.

Love is sacrificial.
putting your needs before mine;
giving
without waiting for something in return:
wanting hope for you;
sharing your burdens
and your joys;
supporting you in what you do;
loving
without needing love back;
letting you be
the person you are
wonderfully created to be.

This is love,
love that will bear fruit,
that will make us strong.

Love that if each of us share,
we will receive
what we need too.
A circle of love,
hope,
peace
and life
in all it’s fulness
for all.

Thank you for love Lord.
Your love for me,
given so freely
by you
and by others.

Teach me to love
as you love,
to love without counting the cost,
without waiting
for someone else to make the first move,
without waiting
to see what I get in return.

Give me your love,
tender,
true,
that keeps on loving.

The love of being your friend,
chosen and loved.

I could suggest you listen to Howard Jones’ What is Love for my song suggestion, but I also offer you Love Like Jesus from Rhett Walker Band

The Offer of Forgiveness and Hope

Do you remember me?
Have you wondered about me,
cared if I was dead
or alive?
Or what I was doing?
Have you been able to live,
with what you did?

The first thing I need to know
is if my father,
my precious father
is still alive?

Will he know
that I am here,
safe,
his son?

I can see your fear,
are you wondering what I will do?
If I will seek revenge
now that I ave all the power?

But I don’t blame you
and you mustn’t blame yourselves.
God has worked it all out,
through the results
of your spite and anger,
through my fear and panic
of where I was going
and what was
going to happen to me.

Through being
in this place,
at this time,
I have been able to help,
maybe even save people.

Now it is my time to bless.

Even you,
however you treated me,
are welcome here.

Together
we will work it out.

It’s him!
Now we are for it.

All those things we did to him,
the revenge we wrought on him,
the cruelty we poured on him.

We never thought
we would see him again,
thought he was out
of our lives forever,

and now
he is in charge

And now,
he is the one to save us.

all those dreams,
his boasts
are coming true.
They weren’t dreams after all
they were visions,
truths,
of where we are now.

Will he want his payback?
Are we going to suffer
for what we did to him?

But no.
He is saying that God has worked in it,
taken our cruelty
and brought Joseph to a good place.

He has the choice
and is welcoming us,
accepting us,
forgiving us,

and offering us a new hope
and a new life.
Living together with him


Thank you Lord
for the forgiveness you offer us.

For meeting us in our place
of embarrassment
and shame.

For lifting that from us
and giving us
the offer
of a new life
and a new hope.

Forgive us
for the hurt we have caused to others,
as we pray for those people,
and seek to live a new way.

Thank you for those who forgive us
and are willing to accept us
and work with us.

Teach me Lord
the way of forgiveness
and new life.

The words of this song are beautiful and very apt.

Joseph Tells His Brothers Who He Is

45 Joseph was no longer able to control his feelings in front of his servants, so he ordered them all to leave the room. No one else was with him when Joseph told his brothers who he was. He cried with such loud sobs that the Egyptians heard it, and the news was taken to the king’s palace. Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But when his brothers heard this, they were so terrified that they could not answer. Then Joseph said to them, “Please come closer.” They did, and he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. Now do not be upset or blame yourselves because you sold me here. It was really God who sent me ahead of you to save people’s lives. This is only the second year of famine in the land; there will be five more years in which there will be neither ploughing nor reaping. God sent me ahead of you to rescue you in this amazing way and to make sure that you and your descendants survive. So it was not really you who sent me here, but God. He has made me the king’s highest official. I am in charge of his whole country; I am the ruler of all Egypt.

“Now hurry back to my father and tell him that this is what his son Joseph says: ‘God has made me ruler of all Egypt; come to me without delay. 10 You can live in the region of Goshen, where you can be near me—you, your children, your grandchildren, your sheep, your goats, your cattle, and everything else that you have. 11 If you are in Goshen, I can take care of you. There will still be five years of famine; and I do not want you, your family, and your livestock to starve.’”

12 Joseph continued, “Now all of you, and you too, Benjamin, can see that I am really Joseph. 13 Tell my father how powerful I am here in Egypt and tell him about everything that you have seen. Then hurry and bring him here.”

14 He threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and began to cry; Benjamin also cried as he hugged him. 15 Then, still weeping, he embraced each of his brothers and kissed them. After that, his brothers began to talk with him.

Genesis 45:1-15 GNT

What Would I Give For The Kingdom?

In Richard III, Shakespeare famously has him saying “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse”, he is willing to give up everything he has to get a horse after losing his own. In this weeks gospel readings we see what people are willing to sacrifice for various treasures, but actually the question is, ‘What are you willing to give for the Kingdom?’.

The one thing I remember distinctly from my ‘O’ Levels is from the Scripture classes and that is

the kingdom of God is the rule of God in the hearts and lives of his people

Thank you to Mr Gilmore for that nugget that has stayed with me!

God’s kingdom is not a place, however wonderful that might seem. It is God living in us, breathing through us, working in us. This collection of parables or analogies show both what that can do and it’s value.

A mustard seed

Such a tiny thing,
a small beginning,
hard for the eye to see,
but what it can become
when planted
and nurtured.

Then it becomes strong
and tall,
a place where others
can find safety,
refuge
and rest.

Lord,
take my faith,
however small
and fragile it fells,
grow it strong
and robust
I pray
that others may find refuge
and strength
in it
and in your presence.

Yeast

Nothing
by itself.

Only working
when activated,
mixed with ingredients
that make it grow.

Only becoming something of use
when combined with others.

And then –
what a difference it makes.
For those other elements
become something so much more too.

Lord,
my faith
is nothing by itself.
It needs other ingredients,
other people,
the right things to feed it.

Then how it grows.

Lord, may I share,
allow others to feed me
as I feed them
that together we can grow,
in faith,
in love,
in knowledge of you.

That as we do
your kingdom
will grow
in and through us,

Treasure

Your Kingdom,
your presence,
is a treasure,
valuable beyond any way we can measure.

Once discovered,
it is worthy of all that I have,
demands my everything.

For I will gain far more
than anything I have
without you.

Lord,
I offer you my all,
everything I have,
all that I am,
everything I can be

because all of that
is only worth anything
with you

and with you
what I need becomes a different question.

By Wolfgang Sauber – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62149784

A Great Pearl

I’ve been looking,
searching,
for the perfect thing.

There have been some false starts,
some things I have mistaken,
but now I have found,
the finest thing there is,
the thing that
really
completes my world.

Lord,
that is you.
Forgive me the false idols
I have chased after,
the things I thought were the answer.

But now I see
and know you.

You are what I need
and I surrender the worthless things
for The One
I really need.

By Gethmaperera – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=79652919

A net of fish

What a good catch,
the nets are full,
straining under the weight
of what we have.

Until,
we stop and look
carefully.

All we have here,
is not what we need,
what we thought we had.

Amongst the food,
there is worthless stuff,
the flotsam and jetsam of life
caught up with the good.

We need to sort it out,
to discard what is no good,
to be able to appreciate
the valuable.

Help me Lord,
to sort out what I need
and what I do not,
on this journey with you.

Help me to be clear
about what will help
and what will not.

I lay the net of my life before you
and invite you to sort through it
that I may be stronger
and useful
for you.

The kingdom of God is justice and peace
And joy in the Holy Spirit
Come, Lord and open in us the gates of your kingdom

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

31 Jesus told them another parable: “The Kingdom of heaven is like this. A man takes a mustard seed and sows it in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it grows up, it is the biggest of all plants. It becomes a tree, so that birds come and make their nests in its branches.”

The Parable of the Yeast

33 Jesus told them still another parable: “The Kingdom of heaven is like this. A woman takes some yeast and mixes it with a bushel of flour until the whole batch of dough rises.”

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure

44 “The Kingdom of heaven is like this. A man happens to find a treasure hidden in a field. He covers it up again, and is so happy that he goes and sells everything he has, and then goes back and buys that field.

The Parable of the Pearl

45 “Also, the Kingdom of heaven is like this. A man is looking for fine pearls, 46 and when he finds one that is unusually fine, he goes and sells everything he has, and buys that pearl.

The Parable of the Net

47 “Also, the Kingdom of heaven is like this. Some fishermen throw their net out in the lake and catch all kinds of fish. 48 When the net is full, they pull it to shore and sit down to divide the fish: the good ones go into the buckets, the worthless ones are thrown away. 49 It will be like this at the end of the age: the angels will go out and gather up the evil people from among the good 50 and will throw them into the fiery furnace, where they will cry and gnash their teeth.

New Truths and Old

51 “Do you understand these things?” Jesus asked them.

“Yes,” they answered.

52 So he replied, “This means, then, that every teacher of the Law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of heaven is like a homeowner who takes new and old things out of his storage room.”