Anyone to has moved home, or flat or dwelling more than a couple of times in life, will know that it is rare not to have acquired boxes which have remained unopened either between moves or have never been opened since the day they were first taped up. Even if a dormant box has been labelled describing its contents, the very thought of tearing through the binding tape can be too much to contemplate, and although the intention to sift through the contents which have been boxed up for years is tempting, the reality is that the whole idea becomes a bit of a bother.
I have accumulated a number of such boxes over the years, and they are kept in a spare room with easy access, and during the week I had need to enter the room, and one box immediately caught my eye. The brown binding tape had lost most of its adhesive quality and had curled away from the box. With the help of a pair of scissors it wasn’t too much of a strain to remove the tape and for the first time in years I rummaged through the contents. Of most interest, and fascination were packets of photographs taken fifty or so years ago: images of family gatherings, in particular baptisms, which reminded me of which godparent belonged to which child. The photographs were also a reminder of how young-looking we parents were fifty years ago. The photos encapsulated the time we lived in, the fashion, the cars – some of which are now considered classics and can be seen weekly on the TV programme ‘Bangers and Cash’.
The images brought back happy memories. These photo’s didn’t illustrate any difficult times one may have been experiencing, they expressed happiness, hope, joy, and in particular a photo of the newly baptised child asleep in his mothers arms, which was a rare photo indeed, because the child hardly slept for the first four years of his life! Bless him! …. In such family gatherings among one’s siblings and in-laws there was no need to try impress anyone as our individual faults were tattooed on our foreheads! …. They were well known. ….. No one was ever forced into joining a family gathering.
It is on such family occasions that the commandments of the Lord are fairly easy to comply with! Happy times …. Love one another …. Newly born and baptised cousins sharing centre stage, no need for anyone to try and impress anyone else. The love was genuine, … is genuine, and through the intervening years the family have kept in touch and have helped each other when necessary and when possible, and we still talk to each other! Cousins, nephews, nieces in regular communication. Do we have our disagreements? Of course we do, but that doesn’t affect the filial love we have for one another.
If we as human beings have that ability to experience joy in our family circle, imagine the joy that Jesus has in contemplating us as his children. Jesus doesn’t need a photo to remind him of a particular occasion in time. Jesus is always in the present, and he delights in our love for each other, because in loving each other we love God. Instinctively we love creation both human and material. To love and respect each other is to love and respect God.
Does God take pride in who we are? My instinctive answer is yes! Because we are made in his image. But what about our failings? In his humanity Jesus will continue to love us, just as we love each other in our humanity, and because ‘he chose us as his friends he chose us in his divinity.’ Jesus commanded/commissioned us to go out and to bear fruit that will last. For me, that fruit is love, love expressed in how we treat each other, and if someone is particularly obnoxious or threatening, we express our love for that person in prayer. Jesus prayed that ‘they may be one, as you Father are in me and I am in you.’ Jesus commissioned us to pray for one another, because when we do, other’s sins are forgiven.
We don’t have to like people to pray for them, in fact I would say it’s far more difficult to pray for those who have offended us or hurt us in one way or another, but to pray for them, we are praying that they may recognise their belonging to the body of Christ, and we leave that conversion in the capable hands of the Holy Spirit.
To love is to experience joy, a joy revealed and gifted to us by God. It is a joy experienced by God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and it is the same joy that God shares with all human creation.