Encouragement From The Word

Loving deeply

Last week, my wife and I were privileged to be able to spend a few days in Nassau in the Bahamas.  It was our first trip to the Caribbean, and my first trip outside Canada or the United States.  Travelling with good mutual friends, we were there at the invitation of my friend, Bryn MacPhail, minister of St. Andrew’s Kirk there.  It was my joy to preach the Word and lead the congregation’s singing from the organ, as well as accompany my wife as she ministered in song.  (If you want to listen to the message, it can be heard in the post below.)

Many people have asked me what the highlight of my trip was, thinking it was the beautiful sandy beaches or relaxing around a pool or visiting the downtown core of the city and eating local fare.  And while I enjoyed all of these, it wasn’t any of them that was the number one highlight.  It wasn’t even watching the best ball-hockey game I’ve ever seen (a bunch of ex-pat Canadians, including ex-NHL players, get together for this).

It was people.

Visiting our friends, and seeing them thrive in a new environment, was amazing.  But what touched my heart the most was seeing how loved they are by their new church family.  I met approximately 40 people that evening I preached, and they all spoke in glowing terms of the gifts and ministries of and appreciation for their new pastor and his family. 

Granted, this is still the ‘honeymoon’ period between a pastor and his flock, but not often do I see the genuine love and esteem that I saw that Tuesday evening even in a seasoned ministry relationship.  It blessed my heart to witness the love and support that Bryn and his family receive from the Kirk – and, as I quietly learned, that love and support is not merely words.  It’s followed up with action, some of which we experienced ourselves.

The older I get, the more I believe in the value of personal relationships – and expressing how we feel within those relationships.  God demonstrated his love for us by giving us the Lord Jesus Christ.  How do we demonstrate our love for others?  Loving our sisters and brothers in Christ is a strong witness to the power of the gospel.  Loving others beyond the Christian community is likewise a powerful testament.

I saw both of these in the Kirk.  How are we doing, in our own various faith communities, at loving each other, and loving beyond our borders?  God calls us to love deeply.

23 This is what the Lord says:
   “Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom,
      or the powerful boast in their power,
      or the rich boast in their riches.
 24 But those who wish to boast
      should boast in this alone:
   that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord
      who demonstrates unfailing love
      and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth,
   and that I delight in these things.
      I, the Lord, have spoken!

(Jeremiah 9.23-24, NLT)

God’s best for your weekend!