Milverton, Somerset

Pastoral letter for December

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35

Jesus loves everyone. Every single one of us. Each human on this earth is known and loved by God. Jesus loved poor people, thieves, diseased people, and prostitutes. He loved people who followed Him and those who shunned Him.
Because He loves us, we are called to love as He does. “Love one another.” Is it easy? No. But, He has called us to love, which means we are capable of doing so. Even if we have been hurt. Even if we have been lied to or mistreated. Loving may look like forgiving someone, or accepting or honouring them even though it may seem difficult.

People don’t naturally love with a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love. To love like that, there must be a change of heart. We must realize that we are sinners before God and understand that Christ died on the cross to provide us forgiveness. It is when we make the decision to accept Jesus as our personal Saviour that we fully know that genuine love He has for us. The new life includes a new capacity to love as Christ loves.

Loving like Jesus does not happen by our own will. We can only love like He loves when we are full of His unconditional love. However, Christians are not passive believers, rather they live on the basis of what they believe, and participating in what God is doing here and now. In this year we are encouraged to study A Methodist Way of Life, which chooses to focus on the practices that are connected with the four areas of Our Calling. They are: worship; learning and caring; service and evangelism. The point is the same. Belief on its own will be lifeless, if it is not put into practice.

As we are journey this year through the season of Remembrance, Advent and Christmas, let us follow Jesus in fulfilling the greatest commandment in practice. Let us share God’s love, remembering that ‘we love, because God first loved us” 1 John 4:19.

Gracious God, Thank you for your extraordinary love shown to us in Jesus. Help us to live each moment of each day in gratitude, loving those around us and witnessing to the ways of your kingdom. Refresh us continually in the power of the Holy Spirit to be people of the Way. Amen (from the book, Finding the Way by Revd Roger L Walton).

Rev Zdzisiu Hendzel