Parish Link - September 2023

Perfect love expels all fear

Perfect love expels all fear

Dear Friends,

A newly fletched family of long-tailed tits visited our garden. The chicks were amusingly clumsy. I watched one of them literally fall off a branch. It flapped its wings manically, and to its own surprise, it flew straight into our kitchen. I caught it – a tiny ball of fluff and feathers – and cradled it in my hands.

Just when I brought it back outside, one of the adult birds appeared, carrying a juicy caterpillar. It looked at me with great alarm, so I started talking to it, reassuringly: “Don’t be afraid, I won’t harm your chick. I love you, I’m just trying to help.” And as if it understood, as soon as I let go of the chick, and before I even stepped back, the adult tit flew to the chick and fed it - leaving the chick looking decidedly chuffed with the outcome of its little adventure.

That little moment made me feel at great peace, like all was well with the world. For a fraction of a second, I knew what it must have been like for St Francis, when the birds gathered around him. Or for Adam and Eve, who lived in perfect harmony with nature in the garden of Paradise. No fear. No distrust between species.

Imagine the Christian faith without the concept of paradise, or without the promise of heavenly peace. That would be a very different religion! The Christian vision of peace and harmony in the Kingdom of God gives us hope, here and now. Our cruel survival of the fittest - where we can’t trust animals, and animals certainly can’t trust us - will one day give way to the complete victory of God’s love. And even today, every time we choose love over fear or hate, we can already taste a bit of heaven. ‘Perfect love expels all fear.’ (1 John 4.18).

Love and prayers

Revd Johannes Nobel