I have been redeployed from the church I’ve attended for over 20 years (St Martin-in-the-Fields) to a new church, not too far away (St Stephens, Lyttelton) as part of my curacy. Today was the first time I have preached to this new parish, so it was a good opportunity to lay down what is most important to my faith and that what is most prominent in my preaching. And it is this:
God is most essentially and completely LOVE. The three persons of the Godhead (Father, Son and Spirit) have been in eternal relationship with one another since before the creation of time and space. It is the profound love between these three persons that makes the one being. God created time and space out of a fullness of love. God created humanity out of a generosity of love, to be shared. And God’s actions throughout human history embody and describe love. Love that is fierce, generous, extravagant, radically inclusive, steadfast and unshakable.
Today’s reading from John 13:34-35 sets out Jesus’ command to us:
A new command 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.
In this message, I provide the context in which Jesus delivered this message – a context that represents on the crisis points in his ministry, characterised by betrayal, denial and isolation.
And I set out what is ‘new’ about old command to love, viz. the source of our capacity to love and the missional impact of our love for one another.
Let the love of God be the centre of your life.