Advance posted from Sunday evening - other things to occupy me today!
The Northumbria Community readings:
Psalm 139:23 - 24
Proverbs 15: 16 - 17
1 Corinthians 13: 1 - 3
Now, it's hardly rocket science or even a theology degree to recognise that 1 Corinthians 13 is the great Pauline hymn to love, so I'm going to opt for the Proverbs reading because it is so much less overworked:
Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil. Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred.
I guess it is appropriate to remind ourselves that 'fear of the Lord' means deep respect for' not 'abject terror of the Lord' but it is really the second sentence that strikes me - better a simple meal shared in loving company than a banquet marred by hatred, bitterness, anger, resentment, etc. The approach of Christmas will see many Britons eating the equivalent of fattened calves, sadly, all too often, in tense and stressful company, where tempers flare, hasty words are spoken and intemperate actions cause harm. Better a cup of instant soup with love and laughter than that!
Two quick thoughts.
Today I am not posting because I am busy preparing food for my celebration birthday dinner, to which I have invited many guests. The truth is, I am pretty sure they'd all turn up for something far less elaborate than I have planned and that we'd have a good time, because they are all people who love as a way of being.
Secondly, over Christmas we will have many and varied people passing through church and eating meals we have prepared. Some of these people have very challenging lives, know little love and may live in ways that we wonder or worry about. But the amazing thing is this: every time I mention the Christmas Day dinner to even the most hard-nosed avowed atheist, their eyes become a little dewy because they detect a hint of love lived out through us.
Beans on toast
Shared with one who loves me
Far better than
Banquets, and toasts
To people who invite from obligation...
And a smile
More satisfying than
Wise words about love
Made manifest in Christ
In squares of bread
And sips of wine
As we meet around tables this Christmas-tide
Whatever we eat or drink
May love be fill us to bursting point... and then some