in anticipation of St Valentine

words

This morning there was a discussion on the radio that reminded me that William Shakespeare invented over 1700 new words and phrases that are now in common usage in the English Language. Wow! When you consider that the average vocabulary is perhaps 35,000 words (wow again), that’s quite a significant proportion of words that have come from Stratford Bill.

Regular visitors here will know that I quite like inventing words myself. I’m not setting myself up in comparison with Billy S, but I do like playing with concepts and ideas and sounds and allowing them to merge into something new.

I have attempted words like ambisomnorous, franticipation, technoloiterate and of course regularly use bloggage, bloggerel, bloggists and derivatives thereof. If you want to know what they mean (as if it’s not obvious) stick the words in the search engine on this site and see what mania lies within my synapses.

There are new words in the Bible as well. Perhaps the most remarkable is ‘agape’. It’s pronounced ‘a gap ay’. The word only existed as a verb before the Bible was written but when the Old Testament was first translated into Greek (it was originally written down in Hebrew, having been faithfully passed down from generation to generation in verbal form) they used the verb as a noun.

A simple translation is ‘love‘. It’s something the shops have us thinking about a lot at the moment with cards and gifts and hearts everywhere designed to make them some money out of our love for others. But it’s so much more than that. It’s not romantic. It’s not sexual. It doesn’t depend on familial relationships. It is more and act of will than an emotion. It’s delight in the well-being of the one who is loved; it’s a love that is so deep that one is willing to give up one’s own life for the one who is loved; it is blessing, faithfulness, commitment and goodwill rolled into one.

It’s the lens through which God sees us. It’s the way that Jesus treated other people. It’s what led Jesus to die on the cross in our place. It’s the essence of God.

And it doesn’t come naturally. Naturally we are selfish, self-serving, self-promoting. Our natural instinct is to preserve ourselves, our status, our possessions at all costs. Evolutionary biologists would talk about the survival instinct within us.

So how come such a love as ‘agape’ exists? It comes from God. It points us to God. It enables us to catch a glimpse of God. It is a gift from God. And it is evidence of his Spirit at work in us.

To whom can you show agape today?

Be blessed, be a blessing.

 

wake up and smell the coffee

coffeeThose who have only known me a little will probably have realised that I like coffee, especially good coffee. I don’t really like tea (which is not ideal for a Minister doing pastoral visits when a pot of tea has been brewed for you), but coffee hits the spot for me.

It fascinates me that there are so many different types of coffee – if you go to a coffee shop (I am not endorsing any here but am open to sponsorship offers*!) you will be bamboozled by Americanos, Espressos, Double Espressos, Lattes, Mochas, Cappuccino, Frappuccino, Macchiato,  Flat White, Iced Coffee and more besides. Add to that the variations afforded by type of milk (full fat, skimmed, semi-skimmed, soy), syrups, decaffeinated, and more you are left in a daze, in need of a cup of coffee (they know what they’re doing). And there are national variations like Turkish, Arabic and so on…

But that isn’t the whole story either. God in his wonderful wisdom has provided us with a planetary ecosystem that produces a range of different sorts of coffee beans that produce different flavours and are grown in different parts of the world. These are offered either as blends or as individual beans. The flavours also depend on how the beans are roasted and prepared (up to and including  Kopi Luwak coffee: an exotic java made from coffee beans gathered from the poop of the Paradoxorus (a weasel-ish animal). This creature’s intestines digest the outer part of the bean but leave the inside and add a unique flavour which makes it the smoothest and most expensive coffee available).

And don’t get me started on instant coffee varieties and blends.

Thankfully today more and more coffee is grown ethically and the growers receive a fairer price for the crops they grow (well done Fairtrade Foundation for starting us off on this journey!!!). More needs to be done, but we are moving in the right direction.

What I was pondering this morning as I sipped my coffee was how there is such variety in coffee but it is essentially the same thing. It’s all coffee. But the variety is due to different ways and locations that the beans are grown, treated (and digested and excreted 😦 ), roasted, and blended. It’s all coffee, but there is such variety.

And it’s the same with us human beans. We are shaped by our environment, experiences and circumstances. We are all different, yet we all share the same humanity and are all loved by the same God. Indeed the Bible tells us that we are all made in his image (no time or space to unpack that here today).

When we fail to recognise this we start to see people as different from us and thus we start down the slippery slope towards , prejudice, exploitation, discrimination, war and such evils as ‘ethnic cleansing’.

May God help us to see his image in everyone.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

*Only kidding. (But you know where I am!)