This week’s gospel – Luke 20.27-38 – is a ‘challenging’ passage, to say the least! Here’s my take on it, for our All Age Eucharist (with the help of some classic confectionery…).
Today’s gospel reading is a curious one, with the Saducees trying to catch Jesus out with a tricky question about the details of eternal life. But Jesus is not caught out – he holds fast to his vision of the eternal life of God’s perfect kingdom.
The question the Saducees ask, about a woman who has had seven husbands, is an interesting one. It seems to be a question about relationships, perhaps about love. There are, and have been through the ages, all sorts of different ideas about love and relationships we could consider.
Today we’re going to have a quick look at a snapshot of contemporary views of love… through the medium of Love Hearts sweets! [Children take it in turns to take a sweet and read out the message on it.]
So, there you have it. But of course, human relationships are far more complex that can be conveyed on a sweet. And by that I mean not only romantic relationships, but our relationships with friends, family, parents, children, colleagues, classmates, and our brothers and sisters in Christ. Human relationships, in all their diversity, are beautiful, complex things.
But they are also flawed. All of us love imperfectly. All of us can be prone to be jealous, possessive, insecure, fickle….. [examples from Love Hearts messages].
But God’s love is not like that. God’s love is not flawed. God’s love for each and every one of us is perfect – more perfect than we in our human frailty can possibly imagine. I wonder what a Love Heart from God would say? How about this: [Unfold giant paper heart and ask children to read] “God so loved the world that he gave his only son so that whoever believed in him should not die but have eternal life”.
This is the love Jesus is talking about when he talks about eternal life – a love so unimaginably great that it sweeps away the need for the human relationships we rely on here on earth and draws everyone together in the unifying, all-encompassing love of God. And so, at last, we will know in God’s kingdom that unity and peace which we can never achieve fully in this life.
But, until that time, we will go on seeing in the imperfect love humans have for one another the pale reflection of the perfect love of God for every person. In the frail beauty of humanity we glimpse the eternal beauty of God.
And that is indeed Good News. God invites us into the communion of his perfect love. Our task, our calling, is to share that Good News – to pass on the invitation, and show, by the love and care we demonstrate (however imperfect it may seem) whatever glimpses we can of God’s love to those we encounter. We are called to pray and work for God’s kingdom “on earth as in heaven” and to invite everyone to share in the communion of God’s love.
Our Leading Your Church Into Growth programme, which we begin today, is going to explore how we can better do that as a church – how we can show and tell more people that God loves them, loves us, absolutely. That is Good News and we must share it. And whenever, however, we do – however imperfectly – we give glory to God.