If you were to ask any of my students about me, I would put money on it that they would tell you about my 'boiled sweets of love'. My boiled sweets are famous throughout the school community- a reward for good work, for trying hard or for good behaviour. I also have an equally famous 'circle of love' - which is the way we start and end every lesson and another favourite is my oh so frequent request for my little darlings to answer questions or work together in a 'loving manner' - ( the students like to join in on the word 'Manner'). Everywhere in my Drama studio there are hearts and images of love. I even have a heart stamp which says 'I love their work'.
They all think I am mad, their parents think I am quite mad, my colleagues think I am mad - perhaps you do too - but am I?
Isn't love fundamental to the Christian faith? Isn't loving one another what we as Christians have been called to do? In Luke 10:27, Jesus tells us to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Later in Hebrews 13 he tells us 'to love each other with true Christian love'. In fact Love is mentioned over and over and over again in the Bible.
It is because of this that I feel that loving one another is crucial to our faith and our living testimonies to others. By loving one another we become sensitive to each others needs and this is how we can truly support our brothers and sisters in times of darkness. Life can be tough, we can all face journeys through the valleys and it is through genuine love for one another that we can hold each other up when we become tired or too weak to pray for our selves. It is then that we can hold their hands and walk with them towards the light. I just love the idea of holding people up in prayer and what a blessing it is when we see they have physically been lifted by God.
I try to constantly remind my students that love is important, that we should treat one another with respect, we shouldn't fall out or be unkind to one another. I know this is hard for them, it's hard for anyone, don't we all have people in our lives who we feel are unlovable? Perhaps they have hurt us or someone we care about or somehow they just rub us up the wrong way. But we were called to love the unlovable. Since I became a Christian I have found that turning these relationships around brings the greatest of joys and acts as the greatest of examples to others. When someone has hurt you, forgiving them, and loving them doesn't mean they have won, it means you are free. Loving one another sets you free. Think of how heavy and bound you feel when you constantly go over and over what someone has done to hurt you. Believe me I know, when someone hurts me I can be like a scratched record. But I have seen the blessings of forgiving, of loving, of moving forward and setting myself free.
So I would like to encourage you this week to ask God who you need to forgive, who the unlovable is in your life at the moment. Ask for Him to help you, give the situation and the relationship to Him to heal and I promise you the results will be amazing. You will have no idea how you will be blessed by doing this. It's very simple but its very powerful, in the words of Lennon & McCartney - 'All you need is love!'
Thoughts and the basis of my first sermon on March 6th.