Community built on love (November 2021)
“The measure of love is to love without measure.” Augustine
November is a month of change, the clocks change, the season changes, our gardens change, and we are reminded of the sacrifice of others, which brought about change.
Remembrance Day is a time to remember, commemorate and reflect on the great sacrifices during war, that have shaped our freedoms, traditions and culture. Often, we are reminded of the heroic deeds of a past generation and of individuals, who ‘gave their tomorrow for our today’.
Sacrifice and duty were considered virtues to past generations. What about today? I think there is much to take heart from today and we saw an interesting community-spirit spring forward during the early stages of the pandemic. Neighbours went out of their way to help each other.
However, the real heart of a community is evident when the emergency passes and the ordinariness of life restarts. What kind of community do we want to be? Intuitively, we want to be a warm, welcoming, and nurturing collective, where there is fun, diversity and a strong sense of identity. But as I speak with people, I do sense an anxiety: ‘What we will pass on to the next generations… what will our children and grandchildren experience in this place?’
In our post-modern, individualistic society, ‘sacrifice’ has become a dirty word. Sacrifice seems to belong to a religious context of the past. However, sacrifice and giving to others remain essential elements to community-building. To be blunt, we cannot build community without giving and sacrificing something of ourselves for the sake of others.
[Sacrifice + Giving = Love]
When God first gathered and built a people, His first instruction was: Love God and love each other (Deut 6.5). Jesus said Love God with everything and love your neighbour as you love yourself. (Matt 22.28-29)
This is a symbiotic command to love. I can’t love God if I don’t love my neighbour and I can’t love my neighbour unless it is putting them first (or at least at the same level as me). How we love matters. Jesus’ teaching was challenging then; it is challenging today. Ultimately, Jesus went on to demonstrate what it means to really sacrifice and love others: He gave it all.
Do we want a strong and vibrant community, which gives hope to the next generations? Of course we do! How will this be achieved? Well, it won’t just be through grand infrastructure and political schemes; it will be achieved by loving others and seeking to build them up.
Practically, it means giving time, talent and treasure to ensure others know they are loved and valued. It means ensuring we intentionally support the next generation. In short, it means we need to be willing to sacrifice for the sake of others.
At Padstow Church we are at an early stage of seeing how we can increasingly become a people and place of love for the wider community. A place where The Gospel (The Good News) is tangible in meeting the real needs of parents, children and teenagers, as well as run events and activities for the elderly and other groups.
As a church we want to demonstrate God’s radical love to our neighbours. We want to be a place for the community. To do this we need help, we can’t do it alone; if you’d like to get involved and love your neighbour, please do get in touch.
“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." 1 Corinthians 13.4-5