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Foundation of Love - Mark Fletcher - 01-03-2007 04:56 PM

When out walking this afternoon, something important dawned on me. I would be interested to know whether these thoughts are firmly along Orthodox lines, and that I'm not making some huge error. If anyone could kindly comment, I'd be grateful.

As someone who is very much learning the ABC of Christianity, I feel that I have realised what step one is. After days of agonising over my sins, I realise that I am setting off on entirely the wrong footing. The Way of the Cross may be the Way of Light, but there is something utterly fundamental which I have stupidly lost sight of in the past, which has meant that I was still in the darkness. It is the Foundation of Love.

I need to fully realise as experiential facts in my heart and in my soul and in my body even, that God loves me and cares for me. In fact He loves me so much that Christ died in some sense for me personally. I also must realise before I even begin the journey that I am a likeable and lovable person. I need to love myself as well, whatever my faults. These are essential first steps. No progress can be made without this foundation of love.

I realise that it may appear laughable that I never recognised the importance of this previously. In the words of an old hymn:
Quote:Pity my simplicity,
Suffer me to come to Thee.

Am I going along the right lines with this?


Love - Mark Fletcher - 01-03-2007 05:57 PM

I am reminded of the following poem. The Love the author refers to is both the Divine Liturgy and the Marriage Feast of Heaven:
Quote:LOVE by George Herbert (1593-1633)

Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lacked any thing.

'A guest', I answered, 'worthy to be here.'
Love said, 'You shall be he.'
'I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on thee.'
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
'Who made the eyes but I?'

'Truth, Lord, but I have marred them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.'
'And know you not', says Love, 'who bore the blame?'
'My dear, then I will serve.'
'You must sit down', says Love, 'and taste my meat.'
So I did sit and eat.



Re: Foundation of Love - John Charmley - 01-03-2007 09:46 PM

Mark Fletcher Wrote:The Way of the Cross may be the Way of Light, but there is something utterly fundamental which I have stupidly lost sight of in the past, which has meant that I was still in the darkness. It is the Foundation of Love.

I need to fully realise as experiential facts in my heart and in my soul and in my body even, that God loves me and cares for me. In fact He loves me so much that Christ died in some sense for me personally. I also must realise before I even begin the journey that I am a likeable and lovable person. I need to love myself as well, whatever my faults. These are essential first steps. No progress can be made without this foundation of love.

Dear Mark,

My answer would be a simple 'yes'.

1 Corinthians 13:1-2
Quote:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:13
Quote:13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

When I was a child, in my Sunday School there was a big notice, it read: 'God is Love'. Coming to the realisation of what that means is of vital importance.

Sometimes we can get hung up on the notion that Christ dies as some sort of ransom for our sins, as though Satan had some sort of legitimate claim on our souls; but as I understand it, Orthodoxy says that Christ died that we might be saved - it was an act of love. That He should have done that for me demands my 'all'. If I am worth that, then truly, my Heavenly Father shows me what love really is.

So, Mark, I do think you have come to an important place.

In Christ,

John


Thanks - Mark Fletcher - 02-03-2007 07:51 AM

Thank you so very much for your posting, John. Just as God is the Ultimate in Self-giving Love and Service, so Christians have to reflect this in their lives, out of sheer love in response to so great a Gift. Perhaps it comes back in a way to our childhood self-image and early relationship to parental figures. If our parents loved and cared for us, then it is perhaps easier to see God as Love. If our parents seemed detached and ambivalent towards us, then it is easy for us to see God as some sort of judge and manipulator who cares little for our well-being. Not that I'm suggesting for a moment that Christianity should be taken to bits, analysed and 'de-mythologised' as some allegedly Christian theologians and academics suggest, in the name of modern psychiatry, psychology or psychoanalysis. I just mean that these early experiences shape our understanding. A few years ago, I met a woman who was in the same class as me at Primary school. She recognised me immediately and noted that I hadn't really changed very much since then. I suppose our basic psychic structure (which is fundamental to our self-identity) remains intact and just gets overlaid with new experiences. We all bear the psychic scars and deep joys of our childhoods still, however much we pretend otherwise. Thanks again.


Wordsworth - Mark Fletcher - 02-03-2007 08:09 AM

Quote:From Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood by William Wordsworth

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
But He beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is Nature's Priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.

Or not, as the case may be.


Just As I Am - Mark Fletcher - 03-03-2007 01:14 PM

Quote:Just as I am, without one plea
But that thy blood was shed for me,
And that thou bidd'st me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings within and fears without,
O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea all I need in thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am, thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve:
Because thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am (thy love unknown
Has broken every barrier down),
Now to be thine, yea thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am, of that free love
The breadth, length, depth and height to prove,
Here for a season then above,
O Lamb of God, I come.

Charlotte Elliott 1798-1871
New English Hymnal No. 294



Love - John Charmley - 03-03-2007 05:02 PM

Dear Mark,

Thank you for that quotation - it is one of my favourite hymns.

St. Isaac the Syrian wrote:
Quote:For God, who is good and compassionate, is not in the habit of judging the infirmities of human nature or actions brought about by necessity, even though they may be reprehensible ... God's use of justice cannot counterbalance His mercy. Like a handful of sand thrown into the great sea, so are the sins of the flesh in comparison with the mind of God.

He also tells us:
Quote:Among all His actions there is none which is not entirely a matter of mercy, love, and compassion: this constitutes the the beginning and the end of His dealings with us.

A powerful testimony, I think.

In Christ,

John


Thanks - Mark Fletcher - 03-03-2007 06:31 PM

Thank you for your posting, John. I can only say that I hope Isaac the Syrian is right!


St Isaac and repentance - John Charmley - 05-03-2007 11:07 AM

Dear Mark,

He usually is. He tells us:
Quote:We should pray with suffering, and we should make supplication to God for all these things with pain. And this is the attitude we should have towards all human beings: we should pray for them with suffering, as for ourselves, for in this way the Divinity will come and rest in us, and cause His will to reside in us 'as in heaven, so on earth.'

In Christ,

John