Click Here to download a brief "How to join us" guide using Zoom
The Elders of Saint Columba have decided that it is not quite the right time to open the church building for in person worship at this time.
We will continue to meet on a Sunday morning for online services via 'Zoom' with our friends from St.Georges and Crosby URC until at least the 16th May. You are most welcome to join us online or by the telephone as zoom can be accessed both ways. We have produced a guide to getting on zoom and if you need further help simply drop us a line. The information for the services is published in the weekly notices or again just drop us a line for the details.
Finally realising how some people in our church family and communities are struggling not having contact with their friends we are introducing a new Coffee, Chat and Craft morning on Zoom this takes place on the 2nd Tuesday of the month and starts at 10:30am. You can pop in and out or stay for the duration of the meeting again if you need the details just drop us a line.
I will continue to hold you in prayer. If you need help during this time please contact myself or an Elder and we will try our best to support you. My contact details are below. We will keep you informed via the weekly notice sheet.
Take care, stay safe and God bless.
Reading :John 15:9 – 17
9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. 12 ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
Today’s reading follows on directly to last week’s reading about the vine, a reading that described God as the vinegrower, Jesus as the vine and the disciples as the branches. At the heart of theat reading was the message that if we are to bear fruit for Jesus then we need to have Jesus at the centre of our lives and we can hear echoes of this metaphor in today’s reading
Our passage begins with the repetition of the word abide and ends with talk about bearing fruit, but at the heart of this reading is love. This is not about the love of today’s modern society, it’s not about an internal quality nor is about a psychological state. To understand the love referred to here, we need to look at how the gospel writer explains love while also considering what we know about how God loves from the wider scripture. To think about the love described here as only an emotional state would miss the depth of what love can be and we would fail to understand what Jesus has call us to do. For John love was radical action!
Let us look at the passage more closely.
Jesus began in verse 9 by telling the disciples that he had loved them in the same way that God loved him. To understand how God loves we need to look at God’s actions throughout Scripture and there we see God creating, redeeming, sacrificing, being faithful, challenging, providing. This is how God loves. Jesus then called the disciples to abide in his love, a love that was modelled on the loved that came from God.
Abiding in Jesus love had a condition attached, “if you keep my commandments you will abide in my love”. This condition was a call to follow Jesus’ example. Jesus obeyed God’s commandments and thus was able to abide in God’s love. Last week when we looked at what it meant to abide in Jesus it was about living with Jesus in every aspect of our lives and one of the ways we can do that is to follow Jesus’ example of relying on God. When we do that, we abide in Jesus’ love. Doing this will bring us joy, not the joy of happiness but the joy of that inner contentment.
Jesus then explained that his commandment was for the disciples were to love one another as he had loved them. This makes sense, if the disciples are living in and experiencing Jesus’ love, then a natural progression of experiencing that love, would be to share that love with others. God loves unconditionally, Jesus loves unconditionally so it doesn’t appear to be unrealistic for Jesus to ask the disciples to love each other unconditionally.
The commandment to love one another as Jesus loved them is followed by these words: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”. Remember this passage was part of Jesus’ farewell discourse to the disciples so at this point they had no idea what was about to happen. But when Jesus was arrested and crucified these words would have then made sense and the disciples would have understood that Jesus laid down his life for them. Jesus’ expression of love was action, just as God’s love is action.
At the start of Christian Aid week, I want us to think about the kind of love Jesus is asking us, as his disciples today, to have. It is important for us to recognise that the love Jesus is speaking about is not a love of sentimental feelings, of love hearts, the love of St Valentine. Jesus is speaking of a love that mirrors the love of God, a love of action. It is unlikely that in our current context we will have to lay down our lives for another person but that does not mean that loving as Jesus loved should not cost us anything.
This is a passage that challenges us to be a people of action and not merely words or emotions. We must believe and embody the love we say we have for one another and that love should be visible in the actions that we do and the words that we say.
Christian Aid is an organisation that is probably well know to you but let me remind you of what they say on their website about themselves. They say they “are a global movement of people, churches and local organisations. We are the changemakers, the peacemakers, the mighty of heart.”
The website continues with this “Everyone is equal in the sight of God. For over 75 years, this truth has inspired us to stand together in solidarity with our most marginalised global neighbours, of all faiths and none. Poverty is an outrage against humanity. It robs people of their dignity and lets injustice thrive. We seek to eradicate extreme poverty by tackling its root causes. Together with people living in poverty, we amplify our voices to speak truth to power and create lasting change.” I don’t know about you, but these words both inspire me and challenge me.
They inspire me because within this simple summary of what Christian is about, I hear the echoes of Jesus words to love one another as he loved us. They inspire me because I see people working together for the greater good. They inspire me because they have not just recognised that there is injustice in the world, but they are doing something to change it.
While I am inspired, I am also challenged – challenged to think about what I can do to support this work and to make a difference too. I am challenged to think about what I am willing to sacrifice in my life, mainly time and money, to support Christian Aid more actively. Am I willing to give up time to keep myself up to date with their campaigns and how I can be involved? Am I willing to put time aside to actively pray for the work of Christian Aid? Am I willing to give up time to be more actively involved than simply reading their website? Am I willing to give up purchasing some treats for myself and give more financially to Christian Aid? And so I could go on…
These are some of the questions that come to mind, but then there are also the wider issues of lifestyle that impact on both poverty and people around the globe. An example would be how can I reduce the impact I have on the environment through my energy consumption, my food choices, my modes of transport, the choices I make around things I need or want to buy. These all have an impact on the climate and therefore have a negative effect on someone else’s live in another part of the world.
There is much more I could say but I hope this is only the start of conversations we have around supporting Christian Aid, but I also hope this is the start of your reflection on what it means to love another as Jesus loves us. This is a passage that challenges us to think beyond ourselves and think about how we can show God’s love through our actions in a way that reflects how Jesus showed his love through his actions.
• Think about the work of Christian Aid and consider in what ways it inspires and/or challenges you.
• Pray for the work of Christian Aid.
• Pray for all the fundraising activities that will take place during Christian Aid week
Red, yellow, tan, copper, light green, beige, Different trees, different colours, Some branches bare, some still laden with leaves, Lord, the changes in the trees remind me of the changes in me, I am not the same now as I was this time last year, I am not the same in the morning as I am in the evening, At times I want nothing more than to come into your presence and worship you, At other times I go on my way without a thought for you.
Lord, as the trees become bare and the leaves flutter to the ground I know that this is temporary and new life will follow after a period of rest, Lord, this reminds me that there are parts of my life that need to die so you can become a greater part of me.
Lord, the evergreen trees remind me of your faithfulness Faithfulness through the different seasons of my life Lord, I thank you that you are evergreen.
Lord I thank you for Autumn and the lessons that it teaches. Lord I thank you for the colour change and the promise of new life that it brings But I thank you most of all for the evergreen……