Today’s post is coming to you from the Finding Your Thinplace Retreat at The Bishop’s Ranch in beautiful Healdsburg, CA. We spent time together reflecting on John 15 and God’s love for each of us, then we actually spent time in the vines at Hawley Vineyard and Winery.
“I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.
4 “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.
9-10 “I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love. John 15:1-10
Each one of us is invited by God to be a part of His Body or as in this passage a part of His vine. The invitation is one that is one of love. It is an invitation of perfect love that is offered – yet it is also a love gift that has to be personally accepted. When one offers a gift to another we trust that the gift will be received, taken and opened. There are many different reasons for gifts to be given and there are also different responses to different gifts as they are received. Sometimes we may feel that there is an ulterior motive or a certain response that is required when a gift is given or a gift is received. How is it with God then when we consider the Scriptures? We often talk about God’s unconditional love and how it is that one can embrace this love from God. As I was pondering God’s love in this passage, I decided to think about what love looks like and ended up with many descriptive words of love. I am going to share 26 of them as I wrote them down.
A – God’s love is an affectionate love which cherishes
B – God’s love is a beautiful love which creates beauty from ashes
C – God’s love is a cherishing love which holds each one close to His heart
D – God’s love is a destined love that secures eternity for His children
E – God’s love is an eternal/everlasting love that outlives one’s earthly life
F – God’s love is a freeing love as it allows one to let go of fears
G – God’s love is a grieving love as He embraces our earthly grief as well as He grieves over the issue of Sin
H – God’s love is a holistic love as it allows us to embrace the ‘presence of holy healing’ in our lives
I – God’s love is an infinite love as it is for all at all times, forever available
J – God’s love is a just love – offered unconditionally to anyone who seeks it
K – God’s love is a kindred love as Jesus experienced humanity here on earth
L – God’s love is a loyal love, a love that will never let one down or let one go
M – God’s love is a magnificent love – beyond understanding
N – God’s love is a nestling love – inviting one to snuggle in His arms
O – God’s love is an open love – He openly receives anyone who comes to Him
P – God’s love is precious – His Son came to live on earth to show His precious love
Q – God’s love is a quality love – it has infinite dimensions
R – God’s love is a radical love – it cost the Father and His Son separation for a time
S – God’s love is a shared love – God shared His Son with the world
T – God’s love is a touching love – it reaches and touches the most broken
U – God’s love is an undying love – it goes on forever and ever – it is eternal
V – God’s love is a victorious love – it takes all power away from sin
W – God’s love is a wise love – it offers healing, wholeness and forgiveness to all
X – God’s love is an (e)xtraordinary love – totally forgives all/any sin
Y – God’s love is a yearning love – it is able to draw anyone into God’s love
Z – God’s love is a zealous love – it seeks anyone, everyone, anywhere.
Yes, God’s love is so incredible that it is beyond all the descriptive words one can find in any/all languages. Yet it is sweet, totally forgiving and healing, and makes beauty from the most broken personal human vessel. Yes, there are times when it may seem as if God’s love is not present or at least not present as one would like it. It is at those times when we one seems so alone that trust and faith is necessary – and maybe one even needs someone to come alongside to affirm God’s presence and care.
As we are approaching a celebration of love for many, I encourage each of us to take some time to think about giving God a love gift. How might that be done? A few years ago, Valentine’s day was on Sunday. Before our congregants arrived, I placed blank hearts on each seat. In my sermon I talked about God’s love for each one of us and then challenged us to think about what we wanted our valentine to say if we gave one to God. During our fellowship time after the service there were stickers and markers at the altar for them to decorate or write on their hearts. As I was packing up my things after wards there were several hearts laying on the altar. As I picked them up and looked at them they were from all the children in our church – with coloring, writing if they could etc. What was most precious is each child had put their name on there creation. They took me literally and left their valentines at the altar as they recognized it as a place of God’s presence. As I close today you have a few days to consider this idea – why not make a valentine for God to share with Him and tell Him how much His love means to you.
God, we love You so much. It is hard to think of giving You a valentine – it may seem a bit frivolous. Today we want to also receive a special infilling of Your love to share with our family, friends, neighbors and with people who are not yet our friends. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Writing and photos by June Friesen. Scripture from The Message.
Join Lilly Lewin on a Finding Your Thinplace Retreat or Pilgrimage to Iona in Scotland THIS AUGUST 28! A few spots still available! More information here!