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 I wonder how many songs you can think of both 'old' and 'new' which contain the word LOVE?  I guess the list is endless, two which spring to my mind as saying a lot of relevant things; 'All you need is love' the Beatles, and 'What the world needs now is love' Jackie Trent. I am certain you could select your favourites maybe because of what they say, the melody, the memory associated, with that particular song.

The trouble with the English language is that there is the word 'love' but it has so many different meanings. I love; walking, music, good food, holidays, and then I love; my friends, my family and my wife. One word so many different meanings although we all understand the differences between the different uses of the word in the above example. In the Greek language, the language of the New Testament , there were a number of different words for love, but the one which is most closely aligned to Christian love is the word Agape.

In the Gospel Jesus makes so many references to this type of love, the selfless giving, the sense of empathy,to try to understand our fellow humans. Here are a couple of those important references to Jesus's thoughts on how we should love one another; John ch 15 v 9-17. Two parts for me are so important; v 12 and 13, 'Love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has nobody than this that they lay down their lives for their friends' Jesus loved us so much that he went to the Cross for us, and gave us the gift of eternal life. Again in Matthew ch 22 we hear Jesus saying that the greatest commandment is to 'Love God and love your neighbour as yourself. All the Law and all the Prophets hang on these two commandments'. Paul of course gave his well known discourse on love in 1 Corinthians ch 13, which ends by showing the importance of love above all the gifts. He says, 'And now these three remain, faith, hope and love, but the greatest of them all is love'

So why is love sometimes difficult? Love our enemies and those who persecute us, that's a bit of a tall order!!  How often do we try so hard to live a life based on that concept of loving yet then we go and say something or do something which upsets someone else, when maybe we didn't even know we were doing it. I have done this and felt really bad about it. Love is also about being able to forgive and to not bear grudges but also being able to admit when we are wrong and to say sorry. I heard an excellent sermon the other Sunday all about conflict, so much part of life. The message was; love is the answer and the cure for conflict of head, heart and mind.

It's not always about friendship but about caring, about being aware, about trying to follow the example of Jesus, not just his words, but the way he treated people.

As we see too much doom and gloom on the news at the moment as there are increased restrictions on our freedom with a question about another lock down, for many this is a really depressing and frightening time. We need to show love more than ever to the lonely, the isolated, the sick and those who are depressed. We do this in whatever way we can, but to quote the earlier song title, 'What the world needs now is love' and lots of it.

But how can we love if we don't feel loved? If we have a real faith then it is based on an awareness of a God who loves us so much and will never let us down. He loves us in all our frustrations and disappointments, all our doubts and fears, he loves us so much, he gave us his son Jesus to be our Saviour and the Holy Spirit to guide and comfort us. If we really believe in that love it helps us to love doesn't it?

Our grandson who will be 10 years old at Christmas, when we say goodbye to him,he replies to our words 'love you loads' by saying 'I love you loads too' Wonderful!

There is a great choice of hymns about love, but I have chosen 'Love Divine, all loves excelling' STF 503 and 'H&P 267. My favourite tune is 'Blaenwern' I especially feel so inspired by v3 'Changed from glory into glory' what a great feeling those words give me!!

Keep safe and keep praying

Dave Elliott

Thoughts for the week