Monday, July 21, 2014

Agape Love - an address at the memorial service for Jane Cameron

I’d like to take us back to the reading we heard earlier in the service from St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian christians.  These words so often fill these walls as a couple come to seal their lives in love, and yet for me at least, they gain new poignancy as they fill these walls as we gather to give thanks to God for Jane today.

The love which Paul writes of is not that of two lovers - (eros), nor is it a recognition of our shared human concern - (philios), but it is the love that of God Himself lived out in the person of Jesus Christ - (agape): self giving, servant-hearted, putting others needs before your own love.

Jane’s love and life are woven into the fabric of many lives locally - whether inside or outside the church community - as a keen supporter and member of the Mother’s Union, as an ardent supporter of John in his time as Parish Warden, or as one of the very earliest members of the In Touch Bereavement support group.  But also, with others, Jane is woven into the very fabric of this place literally, as she played a part in manufacturing the kneelers on which we pray.

Whilst many of us have been on the receiving end of Jane’s love and care and are here today thankful for that - the love of which St Paul writes is not about receiving something.  It is ultimately about knowing a person ‘face to face’ - which Jane did.  In this fuller vision of love’s capacity, infancy will be exchanged for full maturity; imperfect or shadowy vision will be exchanged for a recognition that ultimately it is not so much that I know things, but rather that I have been known by someone.  The love and care that Jane expressed were a response to being caught up with the whole church, in the love of God Himself.

These words of St Paul are a legacy. He doesn’t just write describing love at it’s very best which in many ways describe the Jane we’ve known and loved. Rather what Paul writes about applies to all of us, as it is a vision of the whole church as a caring community that is the gift of the Holy Spirit at work amongst us.  Therefore if Jane’s life is to mean anything to us now and in the days that lie ahead, let it be this - let us also love as Jane did - gently, graciously, kindly - but generously, loyally and transformatively too so that faith, hope and love abide amongst us.

I am taken with a contemporary translation of 1 Corinthians 13 by a spiritual theologian named Eugene Peterson. "We do not yet see things clearly. We are squinting in a fog, peering through the mist, but it will not be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright. We will see it all then, see as clearly as God sees us, knowing God as directly as God knows us. But for right now, until that completeness comes, we have three things to do. Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.” There would be no more fitting a tribute to Jane than that. Amen.

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