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Julia’s Newsletter for September 2016

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The Bible in a Tweet

 ‘Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?’

Jesus answered, ‘You must love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets also.’

 Matthew 22: 36 – 40

 I have been meeting with a young person recently, to begin to talk about faith and the journey of navigating the bible. We came to the conclusion that if you wanted to sum up the bible in one paragraph, them the one above would do nicely. And if Jesus had wanted to tweet, the Old Testament Scriptures could be distilled down to ‘You must love.’

If we look at Matthew 22 closely, we find that although it contains two commands to love, it holds 3 important instructions on love. We should love God, we should love others and equally we should love ourselves. This last one of loving ourselves can often get left out of the equation, but it is inextricably caught up in the other two. If we draw near to God, then we begin to expose ourselves to God’s love and we learn to experience and understand that we are loved. It is like the baby receiving their parents loving smiles and gaze, gradually they begin to take in and understand a parent’s love.

When, in our walk of faith, we come to experience God’s unique love, then we can begin to accept and love ourselves. This is a huge step forward in loving, because then we not only reciprocate God’s love, but turn towards others in love. It’s an odd thing really, but every time we can accept ourselves, we are freed from preoccupation about ourselves to really turn and see others as they are. We can look at them for the first time to see their struggles and challenges as well as their joys and happiness. The more we can accept ourselves as we are, the more we can accept everyone else. It’s all about learning to receive God’s love and finding the worth in ourselves that will free us to love others. As Charles Wesley captures it, we are transformed into all that God would have us be, through being “lost in wonder, love and praise”– surely a tweet distilling the New Testament to its essence.

 

Finish then thy new creation;

pure and spotless let us be;

let us see thy great salvation

perfectly restored in thee:

changed from glory into glory,

till in heaven we take our place,

till we cast our crowns before thee,

lost in wonder, love, and praise.

 Charles Wesley 1747

 

Rev Julia Monaghan