This month we begin the season the church calls lent which leads up to Easter – and it all begins, with Ash Wednesday, on the 14th February – Valentine’s Day!
For the church, lent is a period of preparation to remember and then celebrate the pinnacle of the greatest event in human history, the one by which we measure time itself – the coming of Christ at Christmas dates our years, but it was all leading up to the events that we celebrate at Easter – the greatest outpouring of Unbounded Love ever experienced.
What’s the most loving thing that anyone has ever done for you? How far have you gone to demonstrate your love for someone else?
One of the most well known and well loved hymns sung in churches all over the world is ‘Love Divine all Loves Excelling.’ It was written by Charles Wesley a prominent Anglican of the eighteenth century and brother to John Wesley, Anglican priest and founder of the Methodist Church. John Wesley famously had his heart ‘strangely warmed’ (as he described it) by the love of Jesus and Charles writes about it in the hymn:
Love divine, all love’s excelling,
joy of heaven to earth come down.
Fix in us thy humble dwelling,
all thy faithful mercies crown.
This lent and Easter the Methodist Church wants you to experience the unbounded love of Jesus. It’s a love that cannot be bound. Heaven could to hold it – so Jesus came down; the nails of the cross could not hold it and neither could the grave – so Jesus rose from the dead; the church cannot hold it – so it bursts out in all of life and nature; we cannot contain it – so we want to share it with you!
Not just that, but the unbounded love that Jesus has for you is a love that doesn’t stay within the lines. It reaches into the messy bits of life, it meets you when you’re struggling. It’s not just for those who are holding it together but for anyone who’s losing it too. It’s not just for those that are society’s sweethearts but also for those on the margins, and outside the margins – who feel passed by, rejected, unloved, unwanted. The refugee, the homeless, the imprisoned, the outcast; the depressed, the lonely, the indebtedAll of us – you and me.
If you’d like to experience the unbounded love of Jesus, you only have to ask. Wesley penned these words too:
Jesu, thou art all compassion,
Pure, unbounded love thou art;
Visit us with thy salvation,
Enter every trembling heart.
If you’d like some support in experiencing this love, come and see us at church – everyone is welcome. Equally, you can find out more by signing up to daily emails during lent and on into Easter. You can sign up for them at www.methodist.org.uk/unboundedlove or google ‘Methodist Unbounded Love’. (There’s even a QR code!)
Jesus ‘unbounded love’ is a kind of love that cannot be contained, that works in our lives and in our world to free us and heal us. Experience it for yourself!
Rev Peter Hibberts, Minister in the Newark and Southwell Methodist Circuit
firstname.lastname@example.org; 01636 812166; 07561 665585