Ransomed

Who am I that You should die for me?

I Am the Lover. You are Beloved.

I made you by My choice. I crafted you from clay, to be My Bride. I breathed My Spirit in you. I long to dance with you, to embrace you, to infuse My grace into you so that I can live in you and love in you.

Created from physical matter, a spiritual life within. Ruach, the breath of God, in a clay vessel. On the seventh Day, whatever span of time is meant by that, whether at a point on a continuum of an evolving creation, or a whole new thing, God breathed Ruach into the human form.

The Spirit of God in human bodies, made of  humus, earth, adama: Adam.  The other animals were of the earth too, but they were not named Man, Adam, earthen. Why is this creature different from all other creatures?  There is something special about ‘humans’ that is more than our earthen nature – something supernatural,  essential to our identity. Why should we be named and distinguished from other creatures by a characteristic that is shared by other creatures? ‘Human’ – of the earth – distinguishes us rather from other spiritual beings, from angels.

We have a spiritual identity which is distinct from other animals. Our true nature reflects the image of God, flowering in the ability to freely choose to love, altruistically;  by our free will, not just instinct. We can know God, the One Who Loves, the One Who Is, You Who Are. We can imitate God in our love and forgiveness of one another, allowing God to love through us, allowing Love to be in us. We can have a personal relationship with God; God who came to us in Person.

Why did Jesus refer to Himself as the Son of Man? Other people are children of men, but we don’t all title ourselves as such, as if it was distinctive.  Why is this man different from all other men? There is something special about Jesus that is more than His human nature, something supernatural, essential to His identity.

“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man,he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”

(Philippians 2v5-8)

Jesus must have been conscious of His Divinity, pre-existing before His incarnation.  For Him, being born human is distinctive in a way that it is not for the rest of us. Heaven came to earth in Him. Jesus is eternal and the Son of God, uniquely –  though in a way in which we can, united with Him, participate as children of God; because as God made man, He identified with us.  In the crucifixion He absorbed the hate and inhumanity of man to man, and forgave. He rescued us – in so far as we are willing – in one great ark of mercy and grace,  from our bondage to selfishness and to decay. He told His followers to love one another, to forgive, to love our enemies, to carry our cross after Him, to serve. He came to restore the likeness of God in humanity, and so that we may rise again with Him to eternal life.

“For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  (Matthew 20v28)

Did you die for me, did you give your life for me?

Did you bear the pain for me?

Did you did you die for me?

O Lord my God, why did you sacrifice for me

Everything that you could give, so that I could live?

Did you think of me, on the cross,

Did you think of me? On the way to Calvary,

Did you did you think of me?

Who am I, a sinner?

Why did you care so much for me?

Why did you try so hard, why did you die for me?

Did you die for me? Did you give your life for me?

Did you bear the pain for me?

Did you did you die for me?

Did You Die For Me

You Are Risen

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We are connected

Everything we do affects everyone else. We are connected.

We need to be connecting points with Love, from within, connecting to God. We are touching places with the Divine source of Love. We are not aligned with this when we do not channel that Love, that heart-breaking Love that is like a mother wanting to gather her chicks, like a parent who would lay down their life for their child, a partner who would die for their spouse, a friend who would consider themselves fulfilled to self-sacrifice for love of their friend. What a challenge to rise to this, but what a necessity when the Love that did this for us is longing for reunion with lost beloved children, longing for the lost prodigal son and daughter to come home. We are sent to them, sent to incarnate Love, to demonstrate the Reality of Love. How can they deny our existence? Let Love manifest through our being. Let Holy Spirit change the way we behave so the difference we make will be Love’s difference.

Take time to pray. There is so much grace in store for us and those we love, those we are called to love. Contemplate the face of Christ. Be with Him as a friend. Let Him love you. One way is to use the Lord’s Prayer as a focus. Pause as soon as you feel like it, even if it is on the first word – “Our”. There is a profundity in that word. It communicates our unity, our family bond, our common humanity, our brotherhood and sisterhood. We are each other’s keeper. What I do for you I do for myself.  I love you.

The Prayer of St Francis

Lord make me an instrument of your peace

Where there is hatred let me sow love

Where there is injury let me sow pardon

Where there is doubt let me sow faith.

 

Lord make me an instrument of your peace

Where there is despair let me give hope

Where there is darkness, let me give light

Where there is sadness let me give joy.

 

O divine Master grant that I may

Not try to be comforted but to comfort

Not try to be understood but to understand

Not try to be loved but to love.

 

Lord make me an instrument of your peace

Because it is in giving that we receive

It is in forgiving that we are forgiven

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Listen to a clip

(Music © P. Allsop 2005)

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The love of God

We all have Someone who loves us more than anyone else can, and who wants us to know that more deeply. Take a moment to let the love of God touch you in a new way…

“For God so loved the world, He sent His only begotten Son to be our saviour, so that all who believe in Him may not perish, but may have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

In winter, we reflected on the Incarnation: God giving Himself to be born as one of us. In spring, we reflect on His self-sacrifice for us: His death – and His resurrection to a new life that we may share in.

Remember the story of the ‘prodigal son’ who did not feel he deserved forgiveness, but when he returned to his father he found him waiting to celebrate his son’s homecoming. This is how Jesus told us to think of God.

Come, my children, your Father I am,

I’ve been waiting to welcome you home,

For so long, I’ve loved you, all along,

And I’m waiting now so come.

And I welcome you into my heart,

And I welcome you into my arms,

And I’m calling you to come home again;

My child I want you to know my love for you.

You’ve been crying and I know your tears,

I’ve been sighing for you all these years;

Let me hold you, let me take your hand,

Let me show, I understand.

And I welcome you into my heart,

And I welcome you into my arms,

And I’m calling you to come home again;

My child I want you to know my love for you.

Don’t be worried, whatever you’ve done,

For I will forgive you, I gave you my son,

Now the gates of heaven are open wide,

And I’m calling you inside.

And I welcome you into my heart,

And I welcome you into my arms,

And I’m calling you to come home again;

My child I want you to know my love for you.

 Listen to a clip

How can God become human? Only out of love. He Is Love Incarnate. He gave His life for us out of Love.  He calls us to give this Love to each other. He wants to be incarnate in us.  He wants to live in us. To be one with us.  For us to be love incarnate.

There is a Divine interplay, a dance, between the giving and receiving of love. Bishop Robert Barron explains the Christian definition of God as love:

“God is love. Love is not something that God does, or an attribute that God has; love is what God is. This means that God must be a play between lover, beloved, and love–between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” (Homily for the feast of the Trinity)

Song to the Trinity

Father our God may Your name be exalted

Mighty Your hand is profound are Your works

Marvellous to us all You have created

Signs of Your greatness the heavens and earth

Praise to You Father Lord God of creation

Praises we sing to Christ Jesus Your Son

And with the Spirit we glory and worship

Glory and praise to the Three in One

Jesus our saviour You came to redeem us

Light in our darkness You showed us the way

Shared the Good News of the love of our Father

Offered Your life so that we might be saved

Praise to You…

Spirit of God living presence among us

Still You restore us and fill us anew.

Many the gifts You bestow on Your people

Great is the work You inspire us to do

Praise to You …

Now we shall sing of Your glory and splendour.

Now we proclaim that Your kingdom is come

Reigning in glory both now and for ever

Mighty the Godhead the Three in One

Praise to You …

Listen to a clip

At the Wedding at Cana (John 2:4), Mary said to Jesus, “They have no wine,” and Jesus responds, “What has this got to do with me? My Hour has not yet come.” What is his Hour? It is when he sheds his blood for us on the cross. Professor Scott Hahn tells us that it was the role of the bridegroom to provide the wine, and Jesus is referring to the time when He would give His life for us, so we can live forever in a communion of love with God and one another. The abundance of wine represents the abundance of God’s love for us.

The Passion of Christ refers to His suffering and death, which showed his sacrificial love. Song of Songs, the poem of passionate love, tells us Love is as strong as death, stronger than the grave, as is Jesus’ love for us. He loved us enough to die for us. To enter into that love, we need to respond to the new command of Jesus – Love one another. (John 13:34)

St John of the Cross said, “Where there is no love, put love, and you will find love.” You may not feel it at first – but do it. Love is not just a feeling – it’s an act of the will, as the song by Don Francisco goes. All of us are given a gift – to be an instrument of His grace, His freely given love. Take a moment of silence and pray to know how to do this, to be this.

We are designed to be receivers and givers of God’s love.  Jesus’ self-sacrifice shows us the greatest act of love. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) That is what He did for us. He wants us to receive His love, and in turn to give it out.

Let your love flow, let your love flow through me.

Blood and water flowing down from the tree;

Love and mercy is poured out over me.

Everything I’ve done wrong you still forgive;

You must love me more than I can believe.

Let your love flow, let your love flow through me.

When you look upon the world You cry;

Love and mercy is poured out from your side.

Loving justice when you paid for my crime;

Loving mercy when you paid the price that’s mine.

Let your love flow, let your love flow through me.

Help me to receive the love you give;

Help me to believe how much you love;

Help me heal the pain you feel for us all;

Take my heart my mind my body my soul.

Let your love flow, let your love flow through me.

Listen to a clip

Songs © 2006 P. Allsop and © 2000 C Allsop

Read “The Father’s Love Letter”

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Lent and Love

There is a spiritual reality, but we need to tune our minds into it. It’s like tuning in a radio. And there are all sorts of programmes ‘out there’… some truthful, some misleading, some edifying, some degrading, some unifying, some dividing. How do we discern truth? “Truth, what is that?”

Calming our minds and turning to prayer, we can begin to experience growth in the sense of our connection with one another. In the spiritual reality, we are profoundly connected, more than we know. We are all children of the same Divine Father. Jesus, the Divine Son, is the personification of our unity. That is why we need to love Him, and love one another as ourselves. Whatever we do to each other, we do to Him, and to ourselves. That is why we are commanded to Love one another. It is the order of a parent yearning for his children to experience how loved they are and not to harm one another. We are His hands, His feet, His body. Altruism is enlightened self-interest.

There are different languages of love, as Dr Gary Chapman teaches us, and there are different ways of drawing closer to the source of Love.  The Source of Love is waiting for our time, our thanks, our readiness to receive the gifts He wants to give us, and our sharing of those gifts with others. How do we deepen our relationship with one another? How do we get to know one another better and build bridges? With keeping company, with talking, with listening, with sharing stories and common concerns, with exchanging gifts, with helping one another, with making sacrifices for one another, with touch.

When we do these things for one another in a spirit of giving, we are in a sense doing it for our Divine Parent, who calls us to love one another. But we also need to draw from the Source of Love and deepen our relationship with the One who made us out of love, and longs for us to know we are loved. That means encountering Him. That means making room in some way in our lives, perhaps by sacrificing something else that is taking up the space.

When we ‘give up something for Lent’, it leaves a space in us; and nature, and super-nature, abhors a vacuum. It may be time which we give to prayer, spiritual reading and service instead of TV; it may be food, drink or money which we give instead to those who need it more; or it may be some other comfort, which we may ‘offer up’ to identify with Christ’s own self-offering and create a space for His grace available to us and others:  the love and mercy poured out from His self-sacrifice. It is in giving that we receive.

We are hard-wired spiritually to love one another, and many faith traditions have accessed this wisdom. In fact Darwin came to understand that altruism is a source of happiness, if not the deeper revelation that we find a yet more profound joy and fulfillment in relationship that satisfies our inner spirit: with our loving Creator; and the love He showed for us in a Person who made the ultimate sacrificial gift of His life, that we may ultimately rise with Him to a new life where Love reigns unending.

A Love poem from God to you…

You will never know how much I love you;
Sometimes I’ve got to let it show;
When you’ve forgotten that you are loved,
I will let it flow:
I will mainline my love to your heart,
mind, body and soul;
Through the dark, through the pain,
Through the cloud and the rain,
I will break through it all.

Let me hold you in my arms.
Come close, I’ll keep you safe from harm;
When you are feeling empty and cold,
I will keep you warm:
I will mainline my love to your heart,
mind, body and soul;
Through my life, through my death,
through my rising again,
I will break through it all.

I will mainline my love to your heart,
mind, body and soul;
Through the dark, through the pain,
Through the cloud and the rain,
I will break through it all.
When you drink from the wells of the world
And it leaves a hole in your soul,
Come to me for the only love
that will make you whole.

I’ll mainline my love to your heart,
mind, body and soul;
Through the dark, through the pain,
Through the cloud and the rain,
I will break through it all.
I will mainline my love to your heart,
mind, body and soul;
Through my life, through my death,
through my rising again,
I will break through it all.

I will mainline my love
I will break through it all
I will mainline my love
I will break through it all

And another…

There will be someone loving you
There will be someone loving you
There will be someone loving you
There will be someone loving you

I want to be the music that you listen to when you’re alone
I want to be someone you care about, I want to be your song
And I will wait through the radio silence when you’ve got things going on
But I’ll be with you; you are in my heart; we’re one.

There will be someone loving you
There will be someone loving you
There will be someone loving you
There will be someone loving you

And when you think about me I’ll be sending my love back to you;
Love that has set you free so you can be the love that you want to.
So don’t be hurt by the radio silence when you don’t know what’s going on;
I am with you; I am in your heart; we’re one.

Someone loving you
Someone loving you
Someone loving you
Someone loving you

I know you know love hurts
You know I know it too
I hope you know you’re worth
The sacrifice for you

Someone loving you
Someone loving you
Someone loving you
Someone loving you
There will be someone loving you
There will be someone loving you
There will be someone loving you
There will be someone loving you

C. Allsop ©2015

And another… Any Sacrifice

A song for the start of the Lenten season…Here I am before You

God bless.

crossheart

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Phlare meets Torch

We would like to say a big thank you to the lovely Torch Trust group we sang with today. Thank you for your welcome and participation and encouragement. Thank you for the privileged opportunity to share some of our music and its meaning for us. Here are a few thoughts on the songs, the lyrics and links. If you missed it read on…God bless you!

Veni Sancte Spiritus

Holy Spirit, come and speak in our hearts. Veni, Sancte Spiritus. Come, Holy Spirit.
“Veni, Veni Sancte Spiritus …
We open wide our hearts to receive you;
We give our lives to you, Lord.
You know our longing; to You we surrender;
Come O Holy Spirit!
Veni, Veni Sancte Spiritus …
We long to know the strength of your power;
We call to you in our pain.
Your works of goodness are our source of healing;
Come O Holy Spirit!
Veni, Veni Sancte Spiritus …
Be with us now and make us a channel;
May we be filled with your love.
That we may witness to those all around us;
Come O Holy Spirit!”

 

From Darkness to light

A song written for the time of Advent, when we are preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Why sing this ‘out of season’ ? Because it’s always appropriate to welcome the Holy One into our hearts anew, perhaps into an area of our hearts which has been in the shadows. Perhaps He wants to shed His light and love into a new area of our being. Perhaps he wants to heal a memory, or give us His perspective on something or someone. So let’s ask Him now to come anew into our hearts. Come Lord Jesus. Let your will be done in us, as in Heaven. Let the light of grace enlighten our hearts, minds and souls, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Walk upon the water

In difficult times our faith can be tested, but these times can be spiritually rich because in those times we rely on Jesus. He called Peter to get out of the boat and trust in Him above the forces of nature. We are called to rely on him in the face of all trials and troubles, and He will uphold us.
Jesus, we trust in you.

“Come with me, take my hand, you can walk upon the water.
If you trust in my love, I will lead you through the storm.
Never forget I go before you; I will show the way,
And though the waves surround you I will lead you to the shore.
Why do you fear? There’s so much I long to give you.
Just step out of the boat, don’t be afraid now.
Wonders will unfold; this new life is just beginning.
Great plans I have for you; don’t you look back now.
Be not afraid, you need only let me guide you;
My love lighting your way, I will be with you.
Stay by my side through the night and in the day time,
Your doubts fading a way I will sustain you.
Come test the waters I’ll be there at your side; I will provide for all your needs.
In every situation I’ll be your guide; step forth and give your life to me.”

Listen to a clip

Come, My Children

The Father longs to receive us and welcome us into His love, His peace and joy, His family… He even sent His only begotten Son to be one of us: our Maker’s presence, manifest in our midst, to hold out His hand to us and take us home to Him. May we take His hand and receive God in our hearts.
“Come, My children, Your Father I am; I’ve been waiting to welcome you home.
For so long I’ve loved you all along, and I’m waiting now, so come.
And I welcome you into my heart, and I welcome you into my arms,
And I’m calling you to come home again; my child, I want you to know
My love for you.
You’ve been crying, and I know your tears; I’ve been sighing for you all these years;
Let me hold you, let me take your hand, let me show I understand.
And I welcome you into my heart, and I welcome you into my arms,
And I’m calling you to come home again; my child, I want you to know
My love for you.
Don’t be worried, whatever you’ve done, for I will forgive you, I gave you my Son.
Now the gates of heaven are open wide, and I’m calling you inside.
And I welcome you into my heart, and I welcome you into my arms,
And I’m calling you to come home again; my child, I want you to know
My love for you.
My child, I want you to know My love for you.”

Listen to a clip

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Holidays and Wisdom of Heart

“This is a lovely holiday,” clucks Babs in Aardman’s ‘Chicken Run’, the chickens having miraculously escaped from the ‘chicken pie’ farm. “I’ll be sad to go back”. What she experiences as a holiday is in fact her new permanent paradise, not just a temporary break. In contrast, our perception of life seems to be the other way round. We imagine that our finite time in on this earth is the entirety of our existence.

Whilst it is stretching an analogy to describe this life – or this physical period of our life – as a ‘holiday’, there is something to ponder in the comparison. Our time on earth is a temporary thing. May that thought in itself inspire us to choose wisely in our little lives. We don’t need to have that much freedom to make far-reaching choices. Mother Teresa of Calcutta told of giving a destitute woman a bowl of rice for her family. The starving mother immediately poured half the rice into a bowl and took it next door to give to a hungry family of a different faith. What love and wisdom–to recognise that the life of a different other is as sacred and valuable as our own. As Jesus taught, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

There is a big picture, in which our small yet significant selves play a role more dramatic than we probably realise. Each of us, as we make history with each choice, is part of what Tolkien described to C. S. Lewis as ‘His Story’ – the cliff-hanger of the Creator. Will we ultimately find our way home to inherit that for which we are created and destined by the One who loves us most–the union of our eternal soul with God? Or will we drift off the cliff edge of life, left to lostness?

Whilst the choice is ours, we can’t really save ourselves, just as chickens can’t fly. We are stuck by our woundedness, our addictions, and our attachment to this little, limited life which will inescapably end. We need amazing grace to sacrifice this short-lived selfish self in order to exchange it for a sanctity that will shine beyond this temporal state, to make this earthly visit a ‘Holy-day’, to prepare for our party in Heaven. This is why we must pray, “Heaven help us!” as Ginger did as she strove to free the imprisoned, earth-bound birds. And Heaven will help us.

“For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, that we may not perish, but may have eternal life.”( John 3:16)

Let us not be “sad to go”, but let us live our lives, by the grace of God come to us in Christ, in such a way as to be able to look forward to eternal bliss, eternal love, eternal joy, and many merry meetings in Heaven.

Here is a prayer you can make your own. You are invited to make it from your heart; for your soul.[1]

“Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your beloved Son, Jesus, to show your love for me and to bring me back to you.

Lord Jesus, in dying for me you took on yourself all my sinfulness, and brokenness, so that I would know your complete forgiveness, be healed, and made whole in you. I renounce evil and the kingdom of darkness. I repent of all my sins, and I turn my back on everything that stands between us.

Be first in my life, which I now commit to you. Help me to walk with you in your kingdom of light, and enjoy fullness of life, which you came to give me.

Holy Spirit, you bring me to new life. Please open my heart so that I may live in all the power and joy of your love, to the glory of my Father in heaven.

Come Holy Spirit!”

[1] Adapted from a Youth 2000 prayer card

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Heaven is for real

We have a limited time in this life. Seize the day. When you die, will you have given out all the love that you will wish you had? This is our legacy – that the world will be better because of our contribution – maybe that we have inspired others to change it for the better too.

This body, this mind, this soul – this is what God has to work with. This is the instrument through which Love wants to be present in the world. As St Teresa of Avila wrote, “Yours are the eyes through which to look out Christ’s compassion to the world.”

To love our neighbour as ourselves is to see our neighbour as ourselves, and ourselves as our neighbour. This is death to the self that looks first after ‘number one’, that’s going to die anyway. What we give to others is what we will receive. Quick! Let us store up treasure in heaven!

Personally I need great grace to follow this. It’s logical. It’s joyful. It’s vital. But my ultimately counter-productive tendency to separate-self-preservation or to short-term gratification fights it. “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Paul to the Romans, Ch7:14-25)

“For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son to be our Saviour, so that those who believe in Him may not perish but may have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

If we believe, and we can choose to believe – to open our mind to the possibility, and to accept it – it opens a doorway to heaven, to a dimension of being where our soul can become what it was created and destined to be – pure love. For this to happen we need to accept the great grace of the Healer, the one who took our souls’ wounds on Himself, and by pure love and forgiveness, heals them. In uniting with Him we can receive this healing. It will involve us forgiving those who have hurt us, ‘for they know not what they do’ – that they are hurting themselves. It is in forgiving that we receive forgiveness. It is dying that we are born to eternal Life.

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