January 18, 2019
There is so much big news exploding around us, that I offer a very brief but pointed reflection this week end……….
As it concluded its meeting in Cyprus, on 16 January, the World Council of Churches (WCC) Planning committee released a report about the 11th WCC Assembly, to be held in Karlsruhe, Germany in 2021. The theme will be: “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity.”
In its report, the planning committee described the 11th Assembly as “a place of listening to each other, building trusted relationships, discerning together the way forward, encouraging each other to work together for change, and celebrating Christ’s gift of love.
Timely to say the least. We don’t have to wait until 2021!
The gospels make it very clear that Jesus was not focused on himself. He focused his attention on others.
The word “love” is used a lot. So often that we miss the power of what it means. We forget that it is really what we are about.
My friend, Joseph Martos, observes in his excellent little book Honest Rituals, Honest Sacraments:
The Greek word, agápē, is usually translated as “love” in the New Testament, but it really means care or caring. When Jesus tells his followers to love one another (John 13: 34–35), he is telling them to care about each other and to take care of one another. Even when he tells them to love their enemies (Matthew 5: 44), he is not telling them to like the people who don’t like them. Rather, he is telling his followers to care about people who don’t care about them, and to take care of them if they are in need, for doing that is the best way to get them to change hateful and suspicious attitudes.”
All you need is agápé. All we need is agápé.
Already in the second century, the early Christian author, Tertullian, observed that Christian love (agápé) attracted much pagan notice: “What marks us in the eyes of our enemies,” he wrote is our loving kindness. ‘Only look,’ they say, ‘look how they love one another.’ ”
May we all find ways of listening to each other, building trusted relationships, discerning together the way forward, encouraging each other to work together for change, and celebrating Christ’s gift of love.