Whatever you choose to celebrate at this time of year, we’d like to bless you in Jesus’ name, that you will be able to enjoy good company and that excellent things may overflow for you in ways expected and unexpected. (For more, scroll down…)
More about the picture – The photo shows Dollar Street near the centre of Cirencester, taken on 10th December after the previous night’s snow. We moved to Cirencester in April this year, and the photo shows part of our walking route to the town centre. (You can download larger versions here – Portrait – Landscape.)
More about love – Jesus came to bring good news; in fact, he himself is the Good News. He came because he loves people; he wants us to know him and love him; he wants us to love one another, too. Here’s a description of love at its finest:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Jesus is love personified. Here’s one of the outrageous things he did as a result of that love:
A religious leader called Simon invited Jesus to dinner. In the town there was a woman who had broken the religious laws by doing some pretty shameful things. She made her way to Simon’s house and crept in, coming up behind Jesus at the dinner table (in those days people reclined on a couch to eat). She was crying quietly, and some of her tears fell on Jesus’ feet; she wiped them away with her hair and poured perfume on his feet and kept kissing them.
Simon saw all this and thought to himself, ‘If this man, Jesus, had any idea what kind of life this woman leads, he wouldn’t have let her touch him like this. It’s disgraceful’.
Jesus said, ‘Simon – I have something to tell you’.
Simon asked, ‘What is it?’
And Jesus told a story to make the point clear. He said, ‘Two men were in debt with the bank, one owed half a million, the other £50k. Neither of them could pay, and the bank manager wrote off both debts. Which of them felt most favoured by the bank manager?’
‘Well, I suppose the one who was let off the bigger debt’, said Simon.
‘Right’, Jesus exclaimed. He looked at the woman – ‘See this woman? When I arrived in your house you didn’t provide the customary foot-washing water, but she washed my feet with tears and dried them with her hair. You didn’t give me the customary kiss of greeting, but she hasn’t stopped kissing my feet. Nor did you put the customary oil on my head, but she’s poured perfume onto my feet. Her wrong behaviour has been forgiven and her love demonstrates it. But people who have been forgiven little, love little.’
Turning back to the woman he told her, ‘Every wrong thing you did is forgiven. Your trust has made you perfectly safe; go in complete peace.’
So – If you want people to love you more (and who doesn’t), try forgiving them. Let them off the hook. Be like Jesus; set them free.