Pause for Thought April 2016

springToday has been the first really spring like day, with a warmth in the sunshine to match all the spring flowers in full bloom, the first blossoms and the leaf buds beginning to swell on the trees. 

This week I was delighted to see lambs in the field in the middle of Uffington village.  All those signs of new life and renewal we associate with Easter time.  So I am going to write about Easter even though this is for the April issue of the Parish Magazine.  

The other day I was chatting with a friend at Little Lambs toddler group about Easter crafts and how we might speak about Easter with very young children, apart from the bunnies and chocolate eggs!  How about ‘Easter tells us that God loves us very, very much!’ I suggested.  Because that’s what Jesus death and resurrection are all about – a true demonstration of God’s ultimate love and the ultimate gift, a gift not to be earned but to be joyfully accepted!   It’s summed up in a well-known Bible verse, John chapter 3 verse 16,  ‘God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have a whole and everlasting life.’

As adults it can be so hard to comprehend God’s unconditional love.  We have become so used to having to prove ourselves, we’ve had to pass exams to get where we are now, go through loads of job applications to get work, we’ve learned that there is always a catch to free gift offers.  Perhaps we have had life experiences that make it difficult to accept love, or maybe we have had experiences that make it hard to believe that we could be loved.  But God does love us unconditionally. 

Brennan Manning in his book ‘the furious longing of God’ puts it so eloquently, ‘The God I’ve come to know by sheer grace…has furiously loved me regardless of my state - grace or disgrace. And why? For His love is never, never, never based on our performance, never conditioned by our moods - of elation or depression. The furious love of God knows no shadow of alteration or change.  It is reliable.  And always tender’.  

The writer is using the word furious not in the sense of extreme anger but to signify intense energy.    This intense, awesome love by God was made visible in his son Jesus who was filled with God’s enduring love.

For me, those words in John chapter 3 verse 16 are a truly awesome, life changing offer I can’t refuse.
Easter tells us God loves us very, very much!  

And that’s the same whether you get to read this before Easter happens or afterwards!
With good wishes,
Julie Stanton

Elder – Barnack Community Church
Telephone: 01780 749123