by Rev Jacky Quarmby 12 February 2023
On February 14th it will be St Valentine’s Day, a day associated with love and romance. The word “love” in the English language is rather overused. We say we love watching “Strictly” or we love gammon and chips, when really we mean that we enjoy watching “Strictly” and we like the taste of Gammon and Chips.
The Greeks were far more careful in their use of the word “love”. In fact they had a number of different words for love.
There was Eros, which is an intense, passionate love between two people - the kind of romantic love, which we celebrate on St Valentine’s Day.
There was Philia, which is friendship love - the kind of love which exists between friends who trust each other, understand one another and enjoy each other’s company.
And there was Agape, which is the kind of sacrificial love that we see in the life of Jesus. It is different from the other two kinds of love, because it’s a love not just for those we like, but for those we don’t like and it’s a love not just for those who are lovable, but also for those who do not deserve our love. Unlike eros and philia, it’s a love that doesn’t come naturally to us. It involves an effort of will, a determination to love even when it is hard.
We can’t easily change the way we feel about someone, but we can change the way we act towards them. In Luke 6: 27, Jesus gives us three things we can do, if we are serious about agape love. Jesus says, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
Firstly, we can do good to those who hate us. We can offer to do their shopping or make them a cup of tea or send them a card, if they’ve received bad news. We can go out of our way to do something good, to those who hate us.
Secondly, we can bless those who curse us. We can encourage them and compliment them and say nice things about them to other people. We can bless them through our kind words to them and about them.
Thirdly, we can pray for those who mistreat us. We can take the time each day to pray for the people who have hurt us, to ask God to care for them, to watch over them and to make their lives go well.
Jesus says, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
This is Agape love - a love that is patient and kind, slow to anger and quick to forgive. It is a love that transforms homes, communities and churches and can transform nations.
It is a love that surpasses all things.
God of all mercy,
We thank you that you love us, even when we are unlovable
And bless us even when we do not deserve your blessing.
In this moment we recall those of our neighbours, colleagues
And acquaintances whose behaviour makes our life miserable.
Lord, help us to do those things which make their lives easier
To encourage them and support them with our words
And to pray for your blessing in their lives.
For we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen
Song: Brother, sister let me serve you
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