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Raising awareness of LOVE

by Michael Ford last modified 02 Oct, 2020 11:30 PM

In these changing times, our churches are finding ever more creative ways of spreading a Christian message of hope. Many of those are taking a digital form - but some are physical and highly visible.

There’s a startling new addition to the church green beside St Mary’s in the heart of Weymouth – 4 giant letters that spell out the word LOVE.

The sign was created by Town Centre Chaplain Neil Biles as part of the current campaign by St Mary’s to promote greater understanding of the 'Fruit of the Spirit' as reflected in Galatians 5: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."

On the church Facebook page these are listed, accompanied by an invitation: “What qualities do you want to express as a person in your life? Why not join us and explore those qualities!”

The 8-week teaching programme began last Sunday, when Vicar Jo Haines preached on the topic of LOVE [watch a video here<] and will conclude on 22nd November.

In her talk, Jo started by asking the congregation to recall an old slogan – ‘Have you had your 5 a day?’

This, of course, referred to the importance of 5 portions of fruit and vegetables in the daily diet essential for good health. But, she asked, "What about our ‘9 a day?'"

Jo was referring to the book 'Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit' by Christopher Wright, making the point that the Fruit of the Spirit are equally important for spiritual health.

She went on to develop her theme of LOVE, a frequent refrain in the Bible as well as pop music, reminding her congregation of the 1967 Beatles hit 'All You Need Is Love.'

But, Jo said, the character of love isn’t as fluffy or romantic as a love song - it's Jesus asking each of us to adopt a radical love, where the interests of others are placed before our own, citing the example of the nurses and doctors who stayed away from their families, sleeping in hotels so they could continue working and caring for those ill with Covid-19.

Neil Biles will follow this Sunday with a talk on JOY, which will form the next giant sign to be displayed on the church green.

Plans are also afoot for another sign - COMFORT – forming part of a Christmas scene when the lights are lit in Weymouth town centre, sending a message of HOPE amid the current pandemic.

The purpose, says Neil, is to help passers-by to pause and reflect on what a Christian life truly means.

Apart from Neil, several other speakers are scheduled to develop the themes from Galatians 5 to those attending the reopened churches, watching online or just listening via a telephone 'Dial a Sermon.' The same message is being delivered each Sunday at Emmanuel Church, of which Jo Haine is also vicar.

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