How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.
Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
1 Timothy 3.9-13
The author of the first letter to Timothy (traditionally ascribed to Paul the Apostle, but most scholars doubt this) is unabashed in expressing his love for the community to which he writes. In many of the letters of the Christian Scriptures we read the same, the authors continually express, without embarassement, their longing to be with those to whom they are writing, and the deep love they feel for their fellow believers.
We rarely express that kind of affection in the Church, or indeed in our everyday lives, except with perhaps a trusted few. Perhaps it is the fear of not having such expressions of love returned, or having them rebuffed. Perhaps it is culturally conditioned.
Those who open their hearts to one another make themselves vulnerable, but also open themselves to transformation and to closeness and to stronger relationships. How different it would be if we were effusive in telling others that we loved them, and if we heard 'I love you' more often ourselves.
Go now into the world,
inspired by the extravagant love of God.
Live generously, with open hands,
loving one another as if your lives depended on it.
Be good stewards of the gifts you have received,
so that God may be glorified in all that you say and do.
And may the abundant love of God surround you,
may the extravagant grace of Jesus Christ sustain you,
and may the constant presence of the Holy Spirit
inspire and encourage you in every good deed and word.
Christine Longhurst from the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies