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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Start:Stop - Exchanges of Love

Bible reading

As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

“Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17. 21 – 26)


At several points in John’s Gospel we hear Jesus speaking about his relationship with God the Father and with God the Holy Spirit. When he speaks in this way it is as though Jesus is pulling back the veil which prevents us from seeing God and giving us, thereby, a glimpse of God as Trinity. For example, he says that God the Spirit takes what belongs to God the Son and declares it to us. All that belongs to God the Son, he says, also belongs to God the Father. So, all that Jesus has belongs equally to the Spirit and the Father. Therefore, we have a picture of God the Father giving to God the Son who gives to God the Holy Spirit who gives to us. What is being pictured for us is an exchange of love within the Godhead.

Similarly, when Jesus prayed that his followers might all be one, he prayed this on the basis that his followers might be in God as he is in the Father and the Father is in him. The united relationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit means that, at the very heart of God is a dynamic relationship in which a constant exchange of love is underway. Jesus prayed that we, who follow in his footsteps, would experience the same oneness with God and each other that he enjoys with God, his Father. In essence, his prayer is that we will experience unity, because unity is what is at the very heart of God.

We can be part of the constant exchange of love in God; a love which involves the continual giving and receiving of affirmation and authority. If we live in God, we live in love and love lives in us. We become included in the constant exchange of love which exists in the Godhead and are, therefore, constantly loved no matter what else is going on in our lives.

The exchange of love at the heart of the Trinity creates an environment of acceptance and affirmation in which authority is constantly shared by being given and received. Our participation in that exchange, as God’s children, then compels us, to make the attempt to create similar exchanges within the communities, organisations and networks of which we are part; whether that is family, workplace, church or community.

How might that work in practice? We could think briefly of the contrast between places where co-operation exists and those where it does not. I can think of one person I know who was recently working in an environment where self-promotion and active criticism of those with whom they worked seemed to be rewarded and the experience of being in that workplace was one of tension, strained relationships, walking on eggshells. Conversely, I know someone who has doubts and questions about the existence of God but whose experience of the quality of relationships in the church she attends has been such a positive contrast with her experience of relationships in society generally that she has found God in her experience of being welcomed, accepted and affirmed for the person that she is. Her experience has been of an exchange of love which connects to that occurring in the Godhead, while the other person’s experience was of a workplace full of suspicion and tension because what was exchanged was gossip and critique rather than love.

I wonder to what extent we can create everyday exchanges of love as a result of our encounter with the love that is constantly being exchanged by God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.


Holy Trinity, as we enter our workplaces may we bring your presence with us. May we speak your peace, your grace, your mercy, and your perfect order in our offices. May the work that we do and the way we do it bring faith, joy, and a smile to all that we come into contact with today. May everything we do today bring hope, life, and encouragement to those around us.

In our everyday exchanges, may we know and share your exchange of love.

Enable us to maintain good relations within our workplaces by minimising scope for conflict or blame and by promoting respect for others. Enable us to go beyond minimum standards of behaviour by showing love to those with which we work.

In our everyday exchanges, may we know and share your exchange of love.

Loving God, you showed us what all-out love looks like when you sacrificed yourself for others. Enable us to love you and others with all our being and in word and deed. Help us to explore what that might mean in our workplaces.

In our everyday exchanges, may we know and share your exchange of love.


Bring the presence of God, maintaining good relations, minimising scope for conflict, promoting respect, loving in word and deed, speaking peace, bring hope, life, and encouragement, sharing exchanges of love. May all those blessings of almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, rest upon you and remain with you always. Amen.


Van Morrison - Street Choir.

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