From Salvationist 7 December 2019
A MAN had just finished laying a new driveway and was standing back to admire his work when a football flew over the neighbour’s fence and landed in the middle of the wet concrete. The man, who was not pleased, quickly went into his back garden to fetch a rake so he could fish the ball out. He returned in time to see the neighbour’s 12-year-old son with the ball in his hands and footprints in the concrete behind him.
The man started shouting angrily at the boy, whose mother came out to see what was happening. Disturbed by his angry reaction, she said: ‘I thought you loved children.’
‘I do,’ the man replied. ‘I love them in the abstract but not in the concrete!’
Love is the theme of this week’s Advent reflection by Major Noreen Batt on page 9. She looks at concrete examples of people showing love to others, and reflects on the love of God expressed through the coming of Jesus. It was ‘not the theory or principle of love, not the vacuous command to a love that he himself wasn’t prepared to give’, she says. Instead, he ‘chose to enter the mystery of humanity and to love, be loved and risk his love being rejected’.
Two articles this week show how love is being made concrete in corps ministries. On pages 12 and 13, in another of our ‘We are The Salvation Army’ features, Lesley Anderson tells us about the work at Greenock. A number of activities link together in the mission of the corps and in response to the needs of the community. ‘Many of the people who pass through our hall have said they feel safe and valued,’ says Lesley. Because of that some have begun attending worship on a Sunday.
Pages 10 and 11 feature three corps that run food banks: Preston, Edinburgh Gorgie and New Addington. They are just some of the many corps responding in this way – providing emergency food parcels and aiming to give people longer-term support, such as debt advice and Employment Plus sessions. Major Mark Gilden at Edinburgh Gorgie says: ‘Hopefully, they leave feeling valued and see God’s love through our actions, not just the things we say.’
It is a sad reality that loving relationships sometimes turn sour, and in some cases, tragically, domestic abuse is the result. A news item on page 8 highlights the current exhibition at International Headquarters that focuses on this issue. Coinciding with the UN-supported 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, the exhibition features paintings and drawings by women from Mitcham Corps’ Link Café, a drop-in centre for women who have left abusive partners. It offers practical assistance, counselling and friendship.
Many people find themselves in situations that make it hard for them to sense God or experience his love. It sometimes takes the loving actions of others to make it possible. 1 John 4:12 says: ‘No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.’ Or we might say: God’s love is made concrete in us.
From the Editor
LIEUT-COLONEL JONATHAN ROBERTS
Check out our article of the week here.
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