In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen.
I received many interesting and thoughtful questions from the members of this group even before I arrived in Canada, and I have tried to make time for us to consider many of them in the various meetings I have been blessed to attend.
I want to address this evening some aspects of one of these questions in a more formal manner, and so I have taken some time to think carefully and pray about my response, and leave time for people to participate as they want. But the question I want to begin with is ‘How do we live as a community in Christ?’, and it seems to me that this has much in common with another question I received, which was “What is the role of the individual in a congregation?”
I don’t want to talk about the structures and programmes of communities and congregations. About how they are organised and what sort of activities they should engage in. Those are all questions that are rather specific to particular situations, and you know your own situation best. Rather I would like to spend a few moments reflecting on what I consider to be the spiritual principles behind living in community and being a member of a congregation, which are, it seems to me, relevant everywhere.
I want us to do no more than to open the Scriptures and remind ourselves of what is written there about how we are to live together as Christians in communion with Christ who is the head of his body, the Church.
I am not speaking into any particular situations or circumstances. We must all do that for ourselves as the Holy Spirit inspires us. Indeed, as I have reflected on these passages I have been thinking entirely about my own situation and service, and how I should apply them to myself, So I cannot apologise for these passages. I have not chosen them to make a point. I have chosen them because they all have the phrase “one another” in them, and therefore, it seems to me, have something direct and challenging and inspiring to say about how we do live with one another in the Church, and in our families, and work and school situations.
Before we can begin to think about how we are called to live and act, we must discover our spiritual foundations in God. If we are called to live together in love, it is first of all because God is love. The passages we will consider this evening are not requirements placed upon us to please God, rather they are expressions of the divine life which he waits to pour out in our hearts. If we find ourselves challenged by any of the Scriptures I will be reflecting on, it will not be a call to do more in our own strength, but always to seek God more completely, since it is his life and his love we are to express in our own, and it is only in having received this life and love from God that we are able to share it with those around us.
May we begin then with 1 John 4:7-21.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit…. God is love.
Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
These are wonderful words. Not least because they remind us that the love of God precedes our own salvation. It was while we were still sinners that the Word of God became incarnate for our salvation, and it as sinful men and women that we continue to receive the gift of his mercy though we do not deserve it. We do not believe in salvation by works because there is nothing we can do in our own strength to deserve our salvation. And yet in his love and mercy God pours out his grace upon us so that we can co-operate with him in our own salvation.
Since God has loved us before we deserved any mercy and while we continue to deserve only condemnation, this divine standard of love is the measure which should be reflected in all of our relationships with others. We love because of God’s love, and God’s love is not distributed according to the merits of those who receive it. God loved us even when there was no loving response from mankind. He loved first and God is love, it is not just a characteristic, but it is his very being, and if we claim to have the life of God within us then it must surely be expressed and manifested in that same unconditional love of all which is the essential quality of God. Faith without works is dead. But it seems to me to be equally the case that life without love is also dead, and deadly.
If our life is a gift from God and that life is one of love, then many of our problems in relationships with others will be resolved by seeking more of that divine life so that we might experience and express it more authentically. The life of love is not a matter of us forcing ourselves to like others or to say or do kind things, though often we do indeed have to make an effort in our spirituality. But it should be the exterior fruit of our interior life with God in Christ by the indwelling Holy Spirit. If we struggle in our relationships, and our domestic relationships are often those which are most likely to expose our weakness, then it is in seeking God more completely that we find healing for ourselves and generosity, humility and a servant heart towards others. Because we are to be Christ, as this Scripture teaches, and his love was not a response to the love of others, but he came into a world where he truly experienced rejection, abuse, harm and even death. Yet his love was unwavering, and his last words were, Father, forgive them.
I have been very challenged in some of the conversations I have already had with folk here in Kitchener and I am convicted that there are changes I need to make in my service to my own family, which forms a domestic Church. But any changes I make in my own strength will not last, or will lead to pride in success or despair in failure. It is only in seeking a deeper relationship with God that greater fruitfulness and health will be found in all my relationships. This will not mean that I could escape rejection and hurt, but if my life is hidden with Christ in God then I believe, and have already experienced, that my perception of these things can be changed, and changed for the good in love.
When I married my wife 27 years ago we had a passage from 1 Corinthians read at the service. It is popular in such circumstances in evangelical churches because it speaks so clearly about the characteristics of love. If we considered no other passages this evening I believe that this says enough to lead us to seek more of the life of God which is love.
It says in…
1 Corinthians 13:4-5
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
This is a useful checklist. I don’t believe that we should use it to make ourselves feel terrible all the time. I know that I am a sinner. But if God is love and if I must love others to know that I am in union with him, then I need to be concerned about these characteristics of love.
How patient am I?
How kind am I?
How envious of others am I? And we can be spiritually envious as well as materially envious.
How boastful am I?
How proud am I?
How often do I run others down in my conversation?
How much am I concerned with my own situation and opinions?
How easily do I become angry?
How long is the list of wrongs I still remember and turn over in my heart?
One of the things I love about our Orthodox Spirituality is that it is entirely practical and Scriptural. The definition of love by which we are to live in community with one another is not some abstract philosophical notion but something entirely grounded in ordinary and difficult daily relations.
If I am not very patient, then it seems to me that I should conclude that I do not yet love others perfectly. We should not be judging this for ourselves but we should be aware of what others think. I was an IT professional for much of my secular career, and my wife often turns to me for support. I try my best but she doesn’t always immediately grasp things which I consider to be obvious and simple. I run out of patience, and she says to me that I must have been a terrible IT Manager because I have so little of it. Now when I judge myself I think that I am overflowing with patience. But others are not quite so indulgent of me as I am of myself. If others find me impatient then I am clearly not patient enough, and therefore, since the Scripture is clear, I am not loving enough.
And if I am not yet loving enough, then I am not yet united with God in his life and love as I might be, and as he desires for me. Because God is love, unfailing and unconditional love. We might consider many of the other signs and symptoms in that list from 1 Corinthians which allow us to judge ourselves and seek healing in God. Our Orthodox Spirituality requires us to be honest with ourselves and with God. He waits to pour out his blessing in the gift and grace of the Holy Spirit, but when we think that we are already spiritual enough we cease to rely on the strength and presence of God and rely on ourselves. The way of life and love in God requires us to recognise that we are not yet perfect and certainly not self-sufficient, and that these convicting passages of Scripture are an opportunity and an invitation to greater union with God in love, and should not be a cause of despair at our weakness, or prideful resistance to grace.
I do not intend to spend a great deal of time reflecting on each of these passages, but I believe it is of benefit to us to hear the divine teaching of the Scriptures, and for us to embrace this instruction as a necessary aspect of what it is to be a Christian. We are not Christians because we attend Church services a great deal, or know many hymns, or stories from the Bible, or even because we have adopted a particular set of behaviours. But we are Christians because we have been united with God in Christ and share his life by the Holy Spirit, and this life is love, love without partiality and limit. The Scriptures teach us elsewhere that it is easy to love people who are loving to us. But the love of God extends to those who rejected him, and opposed him, it embraces each of us in our sinfulness and pride. And the measure of our union with God is not how much we love him, but how much we love those complex people around us who are also struggling to experience and express the love of God, and even those people who seem not to be loving at all.
Let’s turn to…
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
What can we find in this passage? It is that loving others is not an optional extra for very serious Christians. It is part of what it is to be a follower, a disciple, of our Lord Jesus Christ. The servant is not greater than the master. The student is not greater than the teacher. We have received a divine command – love one another. And we remind ourselves, this is not love as an abstraction, but love as the difficult and confusing and sometimes painful giving of self to others. We are to love in the same way that Christ has loved us. Loving those who reject and resist us, abuse and hurt us, as well as those who are kind and gentle and encouraging of us.
Perhaps we will suggest that our Lord was only asking the disciples to love each other, as a close knit group of friends who were all committed to the same things. But even among the Apostles there was betrayal, there were jealousies and envy and a desire to be first. There were fears and anxieties and disagreements. But they received a command. Love each other. Love each other the way that I have shown you how much I love you.
How can we love others as Christ loves us? It is beyond human effort and energy. But if we are filled with the life and love of God then it becomes possible. Freely you have received, freely give. And this is what we are commanded to share, a gift that we ourselves have received of God. And if we find ourselves drained of such love then there is an unfailing well springing up to eternal life where we may be refreshed if we will only turn again to God, and seek from him all that we lack in ourselves.
St Paul also writes much on this subject. We might think that his writings are only filled with theology, but in almost all of the letters which are in the New Testament he addresses in one way or another the nature of our living and loving together in Christ. In Romans 12 he says…
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
What instructions do we find here for living with others in the Church, and in our own daily and domestic lives? In the first place we see that we are one body. Whether we like it or not, And, this one body is not formed through common interests, or any other human principle, but because we share an essential unity in Christ. To be a Christian is to be in Christ or it means nothing, And, if we are in Christ then we are united by Christ with all those others who are in Christ.
We belong to each other, not because we have chosen each other, but because we have all been chosen by Christ, whose body we are. We are not our own, we were bought at a price. We cannot say that you do not belong to me, because this other belongs to Christ, and if I separate myself from them then I am separating myself from Christ, of whose body this other person is a member.
What are we to do according to St Paul? What should we add to our list of things to think about in relation to the live of love which God offers us in Christ by the Holy Spirit? He says to us, speaking by the grace of God, do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but with sober judgement.
This is again another attractive quality of Orthodox Spirituality. We are not to think of ourselves too highly or too lowly. To think of ourselves too highly is to be proud of ourselves. To think of ourselves too lowly is to deny the work of grace in us. We are to think of ourselves with sober judgement. When I consider my own spiritual life I give thanks to God that there have been some improvements by his grace. I trust God to work out his purposes more than I did a few years ago, when I still believed I needed to take control of things myself. Seeing that God has been at work in my life is not pride, since I am more aware of how far still my life needs to improve, but in all those good things I have received I give thanks to God.
When we judge ourselves with sober judgement we avoid the judgement of God, and most importantly for our relationships with others, we are led to have compassion for their own struggles, because we are reminded that we too are not perfect at all. Perhaps our weaknesses are manifested in one way, and those of another in some other sinful behaviour, but when we rightly consider what God has done in our life, and how much more he must do, then we do not so easily judge others. And these others are our very body. In Christ we are united with them whether we like it or not, and our own salvation and healing can only be found in their salvation and healing. If the foot is injured, then the whole body is affected. The hand cannot avoid the consequences. Therefore, we should seek the health of the whole body for our own sake, if not for that of the other members of the Church.
A little later in the same chapter St Paul turns to describing the qualities of our life together, the life of the body, the life of Christ, the life of love. I will not do any more than read out how he urges us to live. And the one who judges himself with sober judgement will reflect on this and seek the grace of God. He says…
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. …. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Isn’t this the sort of person we want to be in Christ? How deeply are relationships transformed when we seek the Holy Spirit to be Christians who live according to this life, and it is the fruit of life in the Holy Spirit, not our own human effort. We would do well to add each of these phrases and sentences to our list of what it means to be a Christian. But I would like to focus on one which seems most important. Keep your spiritual fervour. I think this is the key.
The life of love is the life of God himself. If we find that we are running out of spiritual energy, it is because we have lost our spiritual fervour. But this spiritual fervour is not something we can manufacture for ourselves. If it is the life of God, then it is only in union with God that we will experience it and be renewed in it.
What shall I say? It is that we must be concerned above all things with our relationship with God, because without a life-giving and sustaining relationship with God we can do nothing. We often try to do just that. We can be engaged in various forms of service, and these are all good, but they will not bear fruit apart from the life of God. We may try to be better people, but we will be doing so in our own strength, and this cannot sustain us when we are faced with obstacles, and hurt and the trials of life. It is only in union with God that we receive that grace of the Holy Spirit which transforms and heals us, so that we can heal others.
If I want to avoid evil, then I must seek to walk more closely with God. If I want to be patient with others, then I must seek to walk more closely with God. If I want to be kind and gentle, then I must seek to walk more closely with God. If I want to understand his will, then I must seek to walk more closely with God. It is only when our hearts are aflame with spiritual fervour that we can live as we would wish and as God commands us. And this fervour is itself the gift of God. Those of you who know St Theophan the Recluse and his edition of the book, Unseen Warfare, will know that before we can begin we even have to ask God to grant us the desire to begin. And so it is for many of us, we are not those spiritual persons we would wish to be because we do not truly find the desire within us to be such persons, and make the sacrifice of self which is required to find life in Christ. But God waits patiently for us to come to our senses, like the Prodigal Son, and he is already on the way to greet us and embrace us. But it is not enough to know we are sitting in misery among the pigs, we must rouse ourselves as best we can, and take that first step back to the Father’s home, and I believe we have to do this often in our lives, even every day.
Then in Romans 13, St Paul says…
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.
What do we see here? We are in debt. We have received much from God. We have received life and love, and we must pay back this debt. How are we to do it? What is required of us. St Paul doesn’t provide us with a list of canonical obligations, He doesn’t say you must attend Liturgy this frequently, you must fast this strictly, you must read these books and learn these hymns. Of course these are all good and proper aspects of our spiritual life. But we may only repay the debt of love by loving others.
And if we are not those who hearts are yet filled with love for all, then perhaps we are in default of our debt, and we are liable to being prosecuted or pursued for it. I know what it is to receive demands from the bank, as do perhaps others of you. And we do all we can to bring our financial affairs back into order. But here is the spiritual account we have with the Lord. We have received unfailing and undeserved mercy and love, far beyond our spiritual credit score. How are we to imagine ever repaying it? Thank God, it is not through any work of our own and in our own strength, but it is in sharing that which we have freely received. The debt to love is paid when we give that love away, and in giving it away we receive more and more, even to overflowing.
So we should consider our spiritual account. Are we only ever seeking to receive from God? At some point, if we are not giving away what God has given, if we are not repaying our debt to love in love, then the supply will fail, we will be able to receive less and less of God. Let us love generously then, even those who do not love in return, so that we might always receive more of God, who gives of himself freely to those who give away what they have received. Doesn’t that verse apply here also? God loves a cheerful giver.
Let’s briefly look at a few more commands, or at least earnest encouragements, from St Paul in regard to our life together. He says in Romans 14…
You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat …So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. Therefore, let us stop passing judgment on one another.
I’m only going to gather up some of his comments in these passages. We have to apply them to our own lives. But God will give the grace we need to become the people that St Paul is urging the Romans to become.
Why are you judging others? Why do you have contempt in your heart for people? Of course we can have opinions, and right opinions, about practices and teachings and behaviour. But the life of love teaches us not to judge other people, as if we knew their hearts and their motivations. If we want to judge someone then the Orthodox Spiritual way teaches us to judge ourselves. When I look into my own heart I find such dark corners that I am left humbled and grateful that God would or could possibly use me in any service. So we must repent of judging others even while we properly have opinions about teachings and practices. It is right for me to oppose or reject the teachings of many popular evangelical preachers if these are likely to disturb and confuse those in my spiritual care. But I have no authority at all to judge those persons who are teaching error, and I should always look to my own heart and my own life and concern myself with my personal sin and failure to live the life of love.
Then St Paul says…
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
What does this mean? It seems to me that we cannot retreat into a passive and philosophical kind of love that means we don’t positively wish other people harm. We need to be active in the expression of God’s love. We read in the Gospel, for God so loved the world that he sent…. He didn’t just remotely love the world, and wish it well, and express a sadness that mankind was bound in a servitude that it had brought upon itself. He expressed his love in action. And all love is love in action.
Are we making every effort in whatever God is calling us to do in relationship with others? Am I making every effort in my home as a father and a husband? I do not believe so. I am convicted by this and many others passages. I am not making the effort I should and must, because the exercise of love, the expression of the divine life of love, is one which must be practical and not theoretical.
What effort are we making to love others, and especially those we do not most easily love and who do not manifestly love us. When we make an effort at work it takes time and attention and energy. We do not accidentally make an effort. Likewise, if we are committed to a sport or hobby. It takes up our time and attention. We sacrifice other activities for the sake of a sport or an interest. This is what is expected of us as Christians. We will make time to love others, actively and practically. We will devote some, at least, of our energy to this exercise of practical and active love. It will require us to sacrifice some of those other things we might rather be doing. But this is the only expression of life in Christ which matters. We may say that we love Christ as much as we like, and convince ourselves of this. But if in the end there is no effort made to love others, and this is more than having warm feelings, or wishing them well, then we do not, according to the Scriptures, have the life of Christ.
We can unpack what this might mean just a little later in Romans when St Paul continues,
Romans 15:1-3, 9
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbours for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” … Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Let’s add to our list of the characteristics of those who love with the love of God. We are to bear with others. We are not to please ourselves. We are to please those among whom we find ourselves, trying to build them up, doing those things that are for their good. Why are we acting in such a way? It is because this is how Christ has already acted towards us. We are to do no more than to share that love which we have already received.
Christ did not please himself. The Word of God incarnate did not please himself. The Word of God incarnate, by whose power the entire universe is held in being, did not make himself the centre of his universe. He did not make it ‘all about him’. It was all about us.
When we read that Christ accepted us it has the sense of being drawn in into a friendship, and being offered hospitality. This is how we are to receive all of those with whom we live in community, both in the Church, at home, and wherever we must serve others. We should not give way to despair if we do not live in such a way, since the expression of such love is itself a gift of grace and the life of God. We give away what we have received and discover that we have already received more to be given freely to others.
Therefore, we must begin where we are and in the circumstances we find ourselves. In the coming day we will find opportunity to live and love in such a manner, by the will of God, and if we have prepared ourselves by the offering of our whole heart, and mind, and body, and will to God each day then we should not doubt that he will provide the grace needed for every invitation to love. The interior gift of ourselves to God must be matched by the exterior gift of ourselves to others. The one must be the expression and the proof of the other.
How can we be said to have accepted Christ into our inward being, and seated him on the throne of our heart, if we have not accepted those others around us, made in his image, bearing his own life, belonging to his own body. So we seek to accept others, confessing our own weakness and lack of such love, because it is by this expression that we know we have received Christ and none other.
No special religious experiences can be a substitute. No serious and scholarly knowledge of the Fathers. No service in the Church, if it is mere activity, can grant that guarantee of life in Christ. It is love, alone, the self-sacrificing placing of others first, as our Lord placed us first. It is the divine life of love experienced and expressed, which is the hope for eternity. Therefore, we love in practice because we are loved. We accept others because we have been accepted. We are asked to give no more than we have received, and in giving we receive more, and already experience the life of eternity.
But this study of our life together is not only a matter of producing so many characteristics to point out our inadequacies. A little later in Romans 15, St Pauls says,
I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.
Perhaps the Romans might have felt that they were not living up to the example of Christ, nor yet living that life together which is the gift of God by grace. So St Paul encourages them, and us. There is a great deal of goodness in you, he says, and you are filled with knowledge. This goodness is not simply a human and fleshly attitude, but is the divine virtue which is the sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit, and this knowledge is not a knowledge about things, which comes through academic study but is gnosis, the knowledge of God imparted by experiencing him.
You have already experienced this, St Paul is saying. You don’t need someone from outside of your own community to remind you of all these things, because you are not ignorant, either of the grace of God or of the knowledge of God. You are already competent to reflect on these things and instruct each other. The Greek says that you are able to admonish one another, and that has the sense of being able to gently and positively reprove each other and ourselves.
This is surely the case. We have done no more than read some Scriptures this evening and reflect on their meaning. I am certainly convicted by what I have read. And now I must apply it to my own life. It is relatively simple. It does not require any advanced spiritual practices. It requires only that each day I offer my whole life to God for his service in humble obedience, and then seek to fulfil all of those opportunities he provides for me to practice the life of love, the divine life and love present in those who believe and are faithful by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
St Paul ends this letter to the Romans by giving them a final instruction. He says,
Greet one another with a holy kiss.
Judas Iscariot greeted the Lord with a kiss. What greater hypocrisy and infamy than to greet with a sign of love one who you intend to betray. To greet someone with the sign of a kiss was to make yourself entirely open to being harmed. If you were facing someone who was bearing a sword or knife, then to approach them and greet them with a kiss was to lay yourself open to betrayal. But such is the price of love. When we give ourselves we face the possibility of betrayal and hurt.
But there is also the possibility of experiencing a true relationship of love. And it is to this that we are called, and for this which the life and love of God prepares us. We do not love God in the hope that he might love us. He already loves us, and has loved mankind even while we rejected him and abused him. The divine love which he offers us will sustain us even we find ourselves facing the same rejection, hurt and pain, and it seems that we often hurt one another as weak and fallible human beings, even when we do not mean to do so.
But even if there is a possibility of such an outcome, the love of God cannot be received unless we give it away. We love others as much for our own inner transformation in love as for theirs. As much for our own healing as for theirs. In the body of Christ to which we belong the salvation of one is the salvation of all. And so we learn to give ourselves, even as Christ has given himself and continues to give himself. Unfailing and unconditionally. With no thought of reward or of what we might receive from others, but because the love of God constrains and requires us to give of ourselves in such a way. When we have given all that we are to God and to others then we are able to receive every good gift, every sign and expression of the love of others, as a gift and not an expectation. And we find ourselves surprised by such gifts rather than disappointed when they are not provided as an obligation.
There are other passages which continue this teaching on our life with one another. I have many others listed here. But these are enough I believe for us to comprehend the nature of the Christian way and the call to self-sacrifice and to self-giving in the way of Christ. Let me just read out some of these other instructions.
Agree with one another.
Encourage one another.
Serve one another.
Bear with one another.
Submit to one another.
Do everything without grumbling or complaining.
Forgive one another if you have a grievance.
Teach and admonish one another in all wisdom.
Build one another up.
Spur on one another to good works.
Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.
Pray for one another.
Love one another deeply, from the heart
But you do not need to be taught these things. I say with St Paul,
I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.
And I am sure of this. The Holy Spirit who is already at work in you all, and in my own heart, will make clear to us how we are to live out the divine life of love. We need only give ourselves wholeheartedly to God each day, with a complete desire to be used of him in humble service to others. The gift of grace will both grant us all that we need to be those who love in truth, and will open up opportunities each day to share that love.
May this be our desire and our experience in increasing measure. To the glory of God and for our salvation. Amen