Abide in my love
When I was a kid in Canada all my friends played Ice Hockey through the winter. I was not the greatest on my skates, but I wanted to play too. So I signed up to the league. The difficulty was teams were chosen randomly. But one of my friends was a coach of one of the teams. Knowing I wanted to play with my mates he made some trades and got me onto his team. I wasn’t chosen because I was any good at Ice Hockey. I would never have been chosen if that was the pre-requisite. I was chosen because my mates wanted to be on my team too. Now, being on their team I had a lot of fun and I got much better – I was never going to go professional, but if I hadn’t been on their team I probably wouldn’t have stuck with it for five years.
Being chosen, and being loved, can have a big impact on us, who we are, and what we become. Bella is quite the gymnast and was showing me how she is learning the trampoline. She enjoys it and has been encouraged to work at it. And that environment is so important to getting better at something.
One of the most popular films, one which my daughter can’t stop talking about the characters from it, is Frozen. I’m not going to go into the story, so far I’ve managed to maintain ignorant bliss about the plot. The reality is even without knowing any of the plot one can know at least one of the songs and the names of the characters. The last song in the film is called ‘Fixer-upper.’ It’s all about how the romantic duo in the film, neither of them perfect, are still ideal for each other. They are both fixer-uppers and while it doesn’t claim they can be ‘changed’, loving one another will make them the best they can be. The song goes on to recognise that everybody is a bit of a fixer upper.
That we each need each other and that love brings out the best in people. It’s true in families too. Whatever the situation, being confident that you are loved can enable and empower you. Knowledge of a parent’s unconditional love builds a child’s confidence and knits them a safety blanket that helps them at the hardest times in their lives.
In today’s Gospel Jesus is speaking to the disciples. The passage is taken from John’s version of the last supper. Think of it as his after dinner speech. And he is preparing the disciples and us for the time after he has died – when they are feeling so alone. Jesus reminds them that they are loved unconditionally by God, even when the world around them seems to be falling apart. In those moments of despair and sadness, they should abide in that love, that love which they have experienced through knowing Jesus. By abiding in that love, by remembering that they are loved they will do what is right. It is when we forget that we are loved unconditionally, that we can become overwhelmed by fear and anger.
But it’s easy, when we say things like ‘God loves all that he has made.’ to think God just loves us in the way that we might call a stranger on the bus love, or we might say oh I love that school, I love them all. Because God loves us like our mother loves us. God knows us personally and chooses to love us. Jesus says, ‘You did not chose me, but I chose you.’ This is true for each and every one of us. God chose you. God chose to love you – no matter what. Not because you are perfect, not because you are good at Ice Hockey or Gymnastics, not because you are kind. God chose to love you for you, and God hopes that if you abide in that love, you will flourish and become the best you that you can be. And that, in effect, is the simplest way of explaining what happens in baptism. Because in baptism God shows us that he has chosen each of us by name to be a part of his family, the church. God promises to love us in the hopes that we will love one another, and surrounded by that love we may become a people full of love to overflowing. For then they will know us by the love we have for one another and for all those whom we meet.
Today Bella, by baptism, you become a full member of the worldwide church. You will be marked with a cross as a sign that Jesus loves you to the end. You are washed in water to remind you that to God, no matter what happens, you are already washed clean of anything bad that could happen to you. Your parents and godparents make promises, promises to continue showing you the love God has for you.
And your job, funny to think of a four year old having a job, but as a Christian your job, all of our jobs, is to go out and love others, just like you already do and just like you are loved.
The Reverend Robin Sims-Williams
8.00am Said Eucharist in the lady chapel
10.00am Parish Eucharist with choir and Sunday School
Said Eucharist on Wednesdays at 11.00am
Monday through Thursday at 5.30pm
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