From the February Grapevine

 From this month's Grapevine,

 our parish magazine.

Copies available (50p) at the back of church or why not have it delivered every month?

See Susan Warrington or contact the church office.

A letter from Canon Rob McLaren

We are enjoying a focus of favourite portions of the Bible this month. In Sunday services and home groups, it is favourite psalms. In this piece, it is one of the favourite chapters of the Bible for English people in the early 21st Century: 1 Corinthians 13.

It is often chosen for weddings or funerals, not least because it gives inspiration and brings encouragement to those who aim for the best. It includes the words: 'love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.' (1 Corinthians 13 verses 4­6)

But let's be clear. This is not just any kind of love. St Paul uses a particular Greek word here. The word is agape: self-giving love.

1st century Greek had a different word for romantic love (eros), and for friendship love (phileo). This is not a passage about sentimental love or emotional love. The love that St Paul implores the Christians in Corinth to put into practice is not just any

love it is agape love, that is self-giving self-sacrificing love.

It might seem strange, considering what his day is associated with now, but St Valentine showed agape love. He paid the greatest of sacrifices for good and godly reasons.

Agape love is known by its fruits, i.e. shown by its actions. It is the sort of love that caused Jesus to leave the throne of heaven in order to be born on a stable floor in order to bring salvation to the people of this world. It is the love that caused Jesus to choose the cruel death on a cross in order to win salvation for the world. If we are unsure about agape love, and wonder what it looks like, then we can do no better than look at Jesus' life and work on this earth, as he called all to follow him.

Unless we are showing this kind of love in our actions, God says (in 1 Corinthians 13) we are useless to him. In his ears we screech and clang, however impressed other people may be. Impressive speaking or understanding or faith or giving or public

statements are all a waste of space unless they are accompanied by agape love.

More than that (says the word of God in 1 Corinthians 13) agape love is one of the few things that really matters in the end, because it is one of the few things that lasts. With God, knowledge and prophesy have a just a fleeting value because they don't last. What is most valuable in God's economy is faith, hope and agape love, because they do last for ever.

And the greatest of them is ……….

Yours in Christ,