The Interfaith Contact Group
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Love and Faith: the Great Inspiration

February 24, 2021

The relationship between the sacred and love are inseparable. The mystics, of all ages and of all faiths have been able to remind us of this divine connection, and so we celebrate love today in our latest Words of Connection. The theme of love was inspired by a contribution from the Rev Canon Peter Wells. It is taken from Quaker Faith and Practice, and it’s written by Harvey Gillman. We open with this, and follow it with another that must be included in this homage to the theme of love and faith – Paul’s letter to the Corinthians 1.13. After this a prayer by Rabia, the 8th century poet and mystic who influenced Rumi so much. Rabia is followed by a delightful short reading by St Francis of Assisi and we close with a modern prayer entitled How Can I tell of Such Love to me, by Catherine Hooper.

I feel that the theme of love is intrinsically tied up with angels, and so I would like to revisit one of our own films, brilliantly directed and produced by Sarah West. It is Angels in our City

Please stay well, and thank you for your inspirational contributions and ideas. 

Very best wishes

Anthea
Chair IFCG

FROM QUAKER FAITH AND PRACTICE 
Harvey Gillman, 1988

I do believe that there is a power which is divine, creative and loving, though we can often only describe it with the images and symbols that rise from our particular experiences and those of our communities. This power is part and parcel of all things, human, animal, indeed of all that lives. Its story is greater than any one cultural version of it and yet it is embodied in all stories, in all traditions. It is a power that paradoxically needs the human response. Like us it is energised by the reciprocity of love.

It wills our redemption, longs for us to turn to it. It does not create heaven and hell for us, but allows us to do that for ourselves. Such is the terrible vulnerability of love.

 

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS 1.13 NIV

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part,  but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

 

THE SKY GAVE ME ITS HEART
Rabia (717-801)

The sky gave me its heart
because it knew mine was not large enough to care
for the earth the way
it did.

Why is it we think of God so much?
Why is there so much talk
About love?

When an animal is wounded
no one has to tell it, “you need to heal”; so naturally it will nurse
itself the best it can.

My eye kept telling me, “Something is missing from
all I see.” So it went in search of the cure.

The cure for me was His beauty, the remedy —
for me was
to love.

 

 

HE ASKED FOR CHARITY
St Francis of Assisi (1182-1226)

God came to my house and asked for charity.
And I fell on my knees and
cried, “Beloved, what may I give?”
“Just love,” He said.
“Just love.”

 

 

HOW CAN I TELL OF SUCH LOVE
Catherine Hooper

How can I tell of such love to me?
You made me in your image
and hold me in the palm of your hand,
your cords of love, strong and fragile as silk
bind me and hold me.
Rich cords, to family and friends,
music and laughter echoing in memories,
light dancing on the water, hills rejoicing.
Cords that found me hiding behind carefully built walls and led me out,
love that heard my heart break and despair and rescued me,
love that overcame my fears and doubts and released me.
The questions and burdens I carry you take,
to leave my hands free — to hold yours, and others,
free to follow your cords as they move and swirl in the breeze,
free to be caught up in the dance of your love,
finding myself in surrendering to you.
How can I tell of such love? How can I give to such love?
I am, here am I.