Love is kind

A sermon given by Rev Maggie Hindley on 31st January 2016

Love is kind……

There’s a quote on the notice board in the vestry by Archbishop Oscar Romero:

Let us not tire of preaching love; it is the force that will overcome the world.

I put it there to remind myself what I am here for – and what the rest of us are here for, too.

Love is patient; love is kind, says Paul in today’s reading from 1 Corinthians. Kindness is our theme for the year. It can seem bland. Everybody wants kindness. Yet we live in an unkind world. What does lovingkindness mean in practice and how do we maintain it?

Our little lion rescues, nurtures, makes friends, refuses to exploit or harm others. So does Jesus. If we had read the first part of today’s bible story we would have heard him pronounce the manifesto for the ministry he is just beginning – good news to the poor; freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, release for the oppressed; a year of the Lord’s favour. An agenda of kindness indeed, and one we might adopt for our year of kindness. And of course Jesus does exactly what he says he will; he heals, he affirms, he teaches, he liberates.

I love the passage from Paul, not just because of its poetry, but because it describes for us what love looks like, in practical everyday terms. It’s like a guide to everyday life. Let’s unpack it:

Love is patient. What does that mean to you?………………… I think of the one hundred times every day when I switch off internally because someone is boring me, or make an excuse to get away, or show my irritation. That’s not  love. It’s not taking the other person seriously, as equal in value to myself. And it’s not Christian.

Love is kind. You shared some examples before we had our prayers of thanksgiving……………….. You can kill with kindness. It needs to go hand in hand with wisdom. It’s not the same as the pampering that colludes with a false view of life. Its best friend is truth. But it should be our default position. What is the kind thing to do, to say, here? Is the question we need to ask ourselves, moment by moment, day by day.

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, is the next cluster of love’s qualities. How does that help us in everyday life?  ………………Love is not love and kindness is not kind if we are loving or kind from an attitude of superiority. We are kind because God is, and because we want to be like God, and because we know God values each of us with a consistency and passion we can barely imagine. So it doesn’t make sense to compare ourselves with others. But we do it, don’t we, all the time? How many times in five minutes? Even though we may strive to present a humble exterior. A lot of work to do there in order to become truly kind.

It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Now there’s a challenge!………..It is so easy to play the game of What’s wrong with so-and-so. Confessing other people’s sins, as someone described it to me once. Lovingkindness does not dishonour the other, either in thought or by engaging in gossip. Lovingkindness doesn’t put the other down in order to feel better about itself. It doesn’t store up resentment as if the other owed a debt. When it is angry, it’s out of a sense that justice has been violated, not out of a frustrated ego that insists that I am the centre of the universe. Not out of the part of ourselves that insists Me! Me! Me!

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. ………………….No schadenfreude, no pleasure when things go wrong for others, even if they have hurt us. The truth is that we are responsible for each other’s wellbeing, and for each other’s future, and for the future of the world. There is no room for the pettiness of revenge, whether at our hands or at someone else’s, or even God’s. In God’s eyes we are all one. A truth that is reflected in the last set of behaviours:

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Protects; more commonly translated bears. It’s about taking responsibility for others, just as they are. We are called to build trust; to give others hope; not to give up.

Everyday virtues; but then Paul sings the glory of the quality of love, of kindness. It is the thing that will endure when everything else has gone. These three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Kindness is hard to grow in ourselves because of our own selfishness and our preference for putting me first.  So, though we all agree with being kind, we are not kind, and we need to pray for kindness and examine ourselves for its opposite and ask God to transform us.

Thank you Paul for those wonderful words! Turning to our gospel story, we see how kindness is undermined also from outside the self. Jesus announces his manifesto in his home town; the people respond to the excitement of Jesus’ being a celebrity but don’t hear his message to them; they turn against him and try to destroy him. He went on his way, miraculously unharmed and also undeterred.

We see the same process portrayed in simple terms in the story of the lion. People who live selfishly can be very threatened by goodness. As we grow in kindness, sometimes we will become the object of other people’s rage. The message is that we are not to be deterred, even though we get hurt, but to know in our bones that in the end love is the force that will overcome the world.

To be kind is a great challenge. Paul’s words remind me of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount; teaching that is impossible to live up to.

We can only even get started because we know what kindness in from the receiving end. We know it from the way we were nurtured as infants, if we are lucky; we have learned it from teachers and friends; and the kindness we have received is only a weak reflection of the kindness of God that – thanks to the gift of faith – is there for us every day and always. The psalm we began with talks of taking refuge in God, refuge from the dangers and hurts of life in the world. It’s like mother love – from my birth I have relied on you.  God is a refuge to which I can always go. Take refuge, then, in our kind and compassionate God who is always there for us, patient, kind, humble, forgiving, rejoicing in our wellbeing, bringing good out of evil. And learn from him to be a refuge for others!

Being kind in our personal lives is a great challenge. But as we continue to learn from our saviour, our world expands. We care not just for family, not just for church, but for neighbour and fellow citizen and for the future of all the children in the world. Professor Danny Dorling, whose book I’ve quoted from on our kindness page on the website, says that what we need in public policy in relation to taxation, welfare, housing, immigration and asylum and so on  is understanding and generosity, hope and perseverance, but above all kindness……Taking an active part in civil society is not for softies; it is hard work and often painful, but it is the only way in which we will see lovingkindness overcoming the world.

The little lion is the one who turns out to be truly grown up. May we, too, grow up into kindness.

Love is kind……

 

Kindness is hard to grow in ourselves because of our own selfishness and our preference for putting me first.  So, though we all agree with being kind, we are not kind, and we need to pray for kindness and examine ourselves for its opposite and ask God to transform us.

 

Thank you Paul for those wonderful words! Turning to our gospel story, we see how kindness is undermined also from outside the self. Jesus announces his manifesto in his home town; the people respond to the excitement of Jesus’ being a celebrity but don’t hear his message to them; they turn against him and try to destroy him. He went on his way, miraculously unharmed and also undeterred.

 

We see the same process portrayed in simple terms in the story of the lion. People who live selfishly can be very threatened by goodness. As we grow in kindness, sometimes we will become the object of other people’s rage. The message is that we are not to be deterred, even though we get hurt, but to know in our bones that in the end love is the force that will overcome the world.

 

To be kind is a great challenge. Paul’s words remind me of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount; teaching that is impossible to live up to.

 

 

 

We can only even get started because we know what kindness in from the receiving end. We know it from the way we were nurtured as infants, if we are lucky; we have learned it from teachers and friends; and the kindness we have received is only a weak reflection of the kindness of God that – thanks to the gift of faith – is there for us every day and always. The psalm we began with talks of taking refuge in God, refuge from the dangers and hurts of life in the world. It’s like mother love – from my birth I have relied on you.  God is a refuge to which I can always go. Take refuge, then, in our kind and compassionate God who is always there for us, patient, kind, humble, forgiving, rejoicing in our wellbeing, bringing good out of evil. And learn from him to be a refuge for others!

 

Being kind in our personal lives is a great challenge. But as we continue to learn from our saviour, our world expands. We care not just for family, not just for church, but for neighbour and fellow citizen and for the future of all the children in the world. Professor Danny Dorling, whose book I’ve quoted from on our kindness page on the website, says that what we need in public policy in relation to taxation, welfare, housing, immigration and asylum and so on  is understanding and generosity, hope and perseverance, but above all kindness……Taking an active part in civil society is not for softies; it is hard work and often painful, but it is the only way in which we will see lovingkindness overcoming the world.

 

The little lion is the one who turns out to be truly grown up. May we, too, grow up into kindness.

 

Love is kind……

 

There’s a quote on the notice board in the vestry by Archbishop Oscar Romero:

Let us not tire of preaching love; it is the force that will overcome the world.

I put it there to remind myself what I am here for – and what the rest of us are here for, too.

Love is patient; love is kind, says Paul in today’s reading from 1 Corinthians. Kindness is our theme for the year. It can seem bland. Everybody wants kindness. Yet we live in an unkind world. What does lovingkindness mean in practice and how do we maintain it?

Our little lion rescues, nurtures, makes friends, refuses to exploit or harm others. So does Jesus. If we had read the first part of today’s bible story we would have heard him pronounce the manifesto for the ministry he is just beginning – good news to the poor; freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, release for the oppressed; a year of the Lord’s favour. An agenda of kindness indeed, and one we might adopt for our year of kindness. And of course Jesus does exactly what he says he will; he heals, he affirms, he teaches, he liberates.

I love the passage from Paul, not just because of its poetry, but because it describes for us what love looks like, in practical everyday terms. It’s like a guide to everyday life. Let’s unpack it:

 

Love is patient. What does that mean to you?………………… I think of the one hundred times every day when I switch off internally because someone is boring me, or make an excuse to get away, or show my irritation. That’s not  love. It’s not taking the other person seriously, as equal in value to myself. And it’s not Christian.

Love is kind. You shared some examples before we had our prayers of thanksgiving……………….. You can kill with kindness. It needs to go hand in hand with wisdom. It’s not the same as the pampering that colludes with a false view of life. Its best friend is truth. But it should be our default position. What is the kind thing to do, to say, here? Is the question we need to ask ourselves, moment by moment, day by day.

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, is the next cluster of love’s qualities. How does that help us in everyday life?  ………………Love is not love and kindness is not kind if we are loving or kind from an attitude of superiority. We are kind because God is, and because we want to be like God, and because we know God values each of us with a consistency and passion we can barely imagine. So it doesn’t make sense to compare ourselves with others. But we do it, don’t we, all the time? How many times in five minutes? Even though we may strive to present a humble exterior. A lot of work to do there in order to become truly kind.

 

It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Now there’s a challenge!………..It is so easy to play the game of What’s wrong with so-and-so. Confessing other people’s sins, as someone described it to me once. Lovingkindness does not dishonour the other, either in thought or by engaging in gossip. Lovingkindness doesn’t put the other down in order to feel better about itself. It doesn’t store up resentment as if the other owed a debt. When it is angry, it’s out of a sense that justice has been violated, not out of a frustrated ego that insists that I am the centre of the universe. Not out of the part of ourselves that insists Me! Me! Me!

 

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. ………………….No schadenfreude, no pleasure when things go wrong for others, even if they have hurt us. The truth is that we are responsible for each other’s wellbeing, and for each other’s future, and for the future of the world. There is no room for the pettiness of revenge, whether at our hands or at someone else’s, or even God’s. In God’s eyes we are all one. A truth that is reflected in the last set of behaviours:

 

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Protects; more commonly translated bears. It’s about taking responsibility for others, just as they are. We are called to build trust; to give others hope; not to give up.

 

Everyday virtues; but then Paul sings the glory of the quality of love, of kindness. It is the thing that will endure when everything else has gone. These three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

 

Kindness is hard to grow in ourselves because of our own selfishness and our preference for putting me first.  So, though we all agree with being kind, we are not kind, and we need to pray for kindness and examine ourselves for its opposite and ask God to transform us.

 

Thank you Paul for those wonderful words! Turning to our gospel story, we see how kindness is undermined also from outside the self. Jesus announces his manifesto in his home town; the people respond to the excitement of Jesus’ being a celebrity but don’t hear his message to them; they turn against him and try to destroy him. He went on his way, miraculously unharmed and also undeterred.

 

We see the same process portrayed in simple terms in the story of the lion. People who live selfishly can be very threatened by goodness. As we grow in kindness, sometimes we will become the object of other people’s rage. The message is that we are not to be deterred, even though we get hurt, but to know in our bones that in the end love is the force that will overcome the world.

 

To be kind is a great challenge. Paul’s words remind me of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount; teaching that is impossible to live up to.

 

 

 

We can only even get started because we know what kindness in from the receiving end. We know it from the way we were nurtured as infants, if we are lucky; we have learned it from teachers and friends; and the kindness we have received is only a weak reflection of the kindness of God that – thanks to the gift of faith – is there for us every day and always. The psalm we began with talks of taking refuge in God, refuge from the dangers and hurts of life in the world. It’s like mother love – from my birth I have relied on you.  God is a refuge to which I can always go. Take refuge, then, in our kind and compassionate God who is always there for us, patient, kind, humble, forgiving, rejoicing in our wellbeing, bringing good out of evil. And learn from him to be a refuge for others!

 

Being kind in our personal lives is a great challenge. But as we continue to learn from our saviour, our world expands. We care not just for family, not just for church, but for neighbour and fellow citizen and for the future of all the children in the world. Professor Danny Dorling, whose book I’ve quoted from on our kindness page on the website, says that what we need in public policy in relation to taxation, welfare, housing, immigration and asylum and so on  is understanding and generosity, hope and perseverance, but above all kindness……Taking an active part in civil society is not for softies; it is hard work and often painful, but it is the only way in which we will see lovingkindness overcoming the world.

 

The little lion is the one who turns out to be truly grown up. May we, too, grow up into kindness.

 

Love is kind……

 

There’s a quote on the notice board in the vestry by Archbishop Oscar Romero:

Let us not tire of preaching love; it is the force that will overcome the world.

I put it there to remind myself what I am here for – and what the rest of us are here for, too.

Love is patient; love is kind, says Paul in today’s reading from 1 Corinthians. Kindness is our theme for the year. It can seem bland. Everybody wants kindness. Yet we live in an unkind world. What does lovingkindness mean in practice and how do we maintain it?

Our little lion rescues, nurtures, makes friends, refuses to exploit or harm others. So does Jesus. If we had read the first part of today’s bible story we would have heard him pronounce the manifesto for the ministry he is just beginning – good news to the poor; freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, release for the oppressed; a year of the Lord’s favour. An agenda of kindness indeed, and one we might adopt for our year of kindness. And of course Jesus does exactly what he says he will; he heals, he affirms, he teaches, he liberates.

I love the passage from Paul, not just because of its poetry, but because it describes for us what love looks like, in practical everyday terms. It’s like a guide to everyday life. Let’s unpack it:

 

Love is patient. What does that mean to you?………………… I think of the one hundred times every day when I switch off internally because someone is boring me, or make an excuse to get away, or show my irritation. That’s not  love. It’s not taking the other person seriously, as equal in value to myself. And it’s not Christian.

Love is kind. You shared some examples before we had our prayers of thanksgiving……………….. You can kill with kindness. It needs to go hand in hand with wisdom. It’s not the same as the pampering that colludes with a false view of life. Its best friend is truth. But it should be our default position. What is the kind thing to do, to say, here? Is the question we need to ask ourselves, moment by moment, day by day.

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, is the next cluster of love’s qualities. How does that help us in everyday life?  ………………Love is not love and kindness is not kind if we are loving or kind from an attitude of superiority. We are kind because God is, and because we want to be like God, and because we know God values each of us with a consistency and passion we can barely imagine. So it doesn’t make sense to compare ourselves with others. But we do it, don’t we, all the time? How many times in five minutes? Even though we may strive to present a humble exterior. A lot of work to do there in order to become truly kind.

 

It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Now there’s a challenge!………..It is so easy to play the game of What’s wrong with so-and-so. Confessing other people’s sins, as someone described it to me once. Lovingkindness does not dishonour the other, either in thought or by engaging in gossip. Lovingkindness doesn’t put the other down in order to feel better about itself. It doesn’t store up resentment as if the other owed a debt. When it is angry, it’s out of a sense that justice has been violated, not out of a frustrated ego that insists that I am the centre of the universe. Not out of the part of ourselves that insists Me! Me! Me!

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. ………………….No schadenfreude, no pleasure when things go wrong for others, even if they have hurt us. The truth is that we are responsible for each other’s wellbeing, and for each other’s future, and for the future of the world. There is no room for the pettiness of revenge, whether at our hands or at someone else’s, or even God’s. In God’s eyes we are all one. A truth that is reflected in the last set of behaviours:

 

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Protects; more commonly translated bears. It’s about taking responsibility for others, just as they are. We are called to build trust; to give others hope; not to give up.

 

Everyday virtues; but then Paul sings the glory of the quality of love, of kindness. It is the thing that will endure when everything else has gone. These three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

 

Kindness is hard to grow in ourselves because of our own selfishness and our preference for putting me first.  So, though we all agree with being kind, we are not kind, and we need to pray for kindness and examine ourselves for its opposite and ask God to transform us.

 

Thank you Paul for those wonderful words! Turning to our gospel story, we see how kindness is undermined also from outside the self. Jesus announces his manifesto in his home town; the people respond to the excitement of Jesus’ being a celebrity but don’t hear his message to them; they turn against him and try to destroy him. He went on his way, miraculously unharmed and also undeterred.

 

We see the same process portrayed in simple terms in the story of the lion. People who live selfishly can be very threatened by goodness. As we grow in kindness, sometimes we will become the object of other people’s rage. The message is that we are not to be deterred, even though we get hurt, but to know in our bones that in the end love is the force that will overcome the world.

 

To be kind is a great challenge. Paul’s words remind me of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount; teaching that is impossible to live up to.

We can only even get started because we know what kindness in from the receiving end. We know it from the way we were nurtured as infants, if we are lucky; we have learned it from teachers and friends; and the kindness we have received is only a weak reflection of the kindness of God that – thanks to the gift of faith – is there for us every day and always. The psalm we began with talks of taking refuge in God, refuge from the dangers and hurts of life in the world. It’s like mother love – from my birth I have relied on you.  God is a refuge to which I can always go. Take refuge, then, in our kind and compassionate God who is always there for us, patient, kind, humble, forgiving, rejoicing in our wellbeing, bringing good out of evil. And learn from him to be a refuge for others!

 

Being kind in our personal lives is a great challenge. But as we continue to learn from our saviour, our world expands. We care not just for family, not just for church, but for neighbour and fellow citizen and for the future of all the children in the world. Professor Danny Dorling, whose book I’ve quoted from on our kindness page on the website, says that what we need in public policy in relation to taxation, welfare, housing, immigration and asylum and so on  is understanding and generosity, hope and perseverance, but above all kindness……Taking an active part in civil society is not for softies; it is hard work and often painful, but it is the only way in which we will see lovingkindness overcoming the world.

 

The little lion is the one who turns out to be truly grown up. May we, too, grow up into kindness.

 everything else has gone. These three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

 

Kindness is hard to grow in ourselves because of our own selfishness and our preference for putting me first.  So, though we all agree with being kind, we are not kind, and we need to pray for kindness and examine ourselves for its opposite and ask God to transform us.

 

Thank you Paul for those wonderful words! Turning to our gospel story, we see how kindness is undermined also from outside the self. Jesus announces his manifesto in his home town; the people respond to the excitement of Jesus’ being a celebrity but don’t hear his message to them; they turn against him and try to destroy him. He went on his way, miraculously unharmed and also undeterred.

 

We see the same process portrayed in simple terms in the story of the lion. People who live selfishly can be very threatened by goodness. As we grow in kindness, sometimes we will become the object of other people’s rage. The message is that we are not to be deterred, even though we get hurt, but to know in our bones that in the end love is the force that will overcome the world.

 

To be kind is a great challenge. Paul’s words remind me of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount; teaching that is impossible to live up to.

 

 

 

We can only even get started because we know what kindness in from the receiving end. We know it from the way we were nurtured as infants, if we are lucky; we have learned it from teachers and friends; and the kindness we have received is only a weak reflection of the kindness of God that – thanks to the gift of faith – is there for us every day and always. The psalm we began with talks of taking refuge in God, refuge from the dangers and hurts of life in the world. It’s like mother love – from my birth I have relied on you.  God is a refuge to which I can always go. Take refuge, then, in our kind and compassionate God who is always there for us, patient, kind, humble, forgiving, rejoicing in our wellbeing, bringing good out of evil. And learn from him to be a refuge for others!

 

Being kind in our personal lives is a great challenge. But as we continue to learn from our saviour, our world expands. We care not just for family, not just for church, but for neighbour and fellow citizen and for the future of all the children in the world. Professor Danny Dorling, whose book I’ve quoted from on our kindness page on the website, says that what we need in public policy in relation to taxation, welfare, housing, immigration and asylum and so on  is understanding and generosity, hope and perseverance, but above all kindness……Taking an active part in civil society is not for softies; it is hard work and often painful, but it is the only way in which we will see lovingkindness overcoming the world.

 

The little lion is the one who turns out to be truly grown up. May we, too, grow up into kindness.

 

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