Sermon – 26 March 2017 (Mothering Sunday)
LOVE: (New Church Logo sermon series: I)
Luke 2:33-35, Simeon and Mary
Is it prickly to touch as a hedge is,
Or soft as eiderdown fluff?
Is it sharp or quite smooth at the edges?
O tell me the truth about love.
So wrote the poet W H Auden, nearly 80 years ago.
If we ask Google, in the modern way, it tells us:
Love is involuntary. … The ancient Greeks called love:
“the madness of the gods.”
Modern psychologists define it as it the strong desire for emotional union with another person.
Nearly 25 years ago in his first and greatest hit, Haddaway wrote a dance anthem called:
What is love? Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me no more…
There’s a clue that, though caring love is often seen as holding another person close, especially between mothers and little ones, we find that love is at least as much about giving away; from when we start nursery or school, leave home or get married. And that can hurt.
Simeon warns Mary, in the midst of her amazement at what he has said about Jesus, that ‘a sword will pierce your own soul too.’ I suppose that is a sword which any mother, any committed parent, will know something about. In the strange and wonderful story of the baby Moses, his mother lets him go because that is what she must do for the best.
As the children’s song goes: ‘Love is something if you give it away’. With our new logo we are hoping to give away the treasures of our church & church building in a fresh way. It is bold, bright, and open, to reflect our welcome and inclusiveness for all. The different greens represent our beautiful rural location; and the gold came from our designer being inspired by our stained glass, to see the sun rising in the east, or God’s light.
Different people are seeing different things in this new logo, and this is a good thing. When this design first arrived, an Irish 4 leaf clover was spotted, and the possibility of four words expressing what we do and what we are as the church here.
I remembered four words taught to me by the retired Bishop Jim Thompson – perhaps most famous for offering his award-winning Thought for the Day the morning after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Big Jim as he was known led the time of getting ready for my becoming a Curate in 2003. He was talking about the priestly life, but these words apply as much to all our Christian lives, and all human life. He gave them first in Latin:
amor, labor, dolor, gloria; love, work, sorrow, glory.
Love comes first and is the deepest green, the colour of creation, representing the Source of all the love in the world, ‘as perennial as the grass’.
As we seek through St Peter’s to continue to serve people in our community and beyond; and increasingly also to invite people to join in sharing our faith in Jesus Christ.
May we know this love, which is both costly and the most valuable thing in the world. And we can see it among us every day; for God is love, and those who live in love live in God.
There is plenty around and in us too, whatever our age, to lead us in more selfish ways;
but faith, hope and love abide, these three. And the greatest of these is love.
May the love of God, seen through so many little everyday actions by those who care, be at the heart of our life and work here.
James Percival, Team Rector