‘Costly Love’ is his name

by Bruce Gilberd

(Based on Mark 1:29-39, I Cor 9:16-23, and Isa 40:21-31)

I will attempt to address three questions this morning.

  1. What kind of God is God?
  2. What kind of God is my God?
  3. What kind of God is your God?

A student training for the ordained ministry went to see his tutor in theology.
“I can’t go on,” the student said.  “I don’t believe in God any more.”
“Tell me,” said the tutor, “about the God you don’t believe in.”
The student explained his current understanding of God – who he thought God is and what he is like.
“Well,” said his tutor, “I don’t believe in that kind of God either.”

In a moment I will invite you to silently consider what noun, verb, adjective best describes how you experience God at present.  The possibilities are limitless, and can change over a lifetime.  What name or description of God is most meaningful to you today, from your own experience of the Divine, and your reflections, and from your journey of faith?

Who is God to you?

[Silence … 20 secs …]

So, are some of us willing to share our key understandings of the Divine at this time?

[Sharing …]

Today’s readings abound in images, descriptions and names for God:




the creative
the gracious
[God is beyond us, yet intimate]
the sender
the compassionate one
and empowerer (through prayer)
purposeful (Jesus ‘must go on to another town’)

All this shows us that whatever our deepest understanding of God is, we can always go still deeper, and go still wider – there is always more of God to experience, receive, name, and share with others …

This raises the question of spiritual growth, of quest, of journey – ever deepening quest into God and into life; and, harvesting meanings from all our day to day experiences, both the seemingly trivial and also the significant experiences and turning points of our lives.

In the twentieth century there was a rather eccentric yet deeply insightful Anglican Bishop of California – James Pike.  He wrote a very important book [Doing the Truth] in which he made these two points.  The first is that thankfulness is the core trigger for all ethical living – and he stresses truth and costly love as essential for personal holiness and community well-being.
The second is even more relevant to our theme this morning:

  1. what we value most,
  2. to whom or what are we most attached,
  3. what we long for most, and
  4. what we would miss most if taken from us …

that is, in fact, our God!  (Whatever else we may say!)
This is quite alarming really!

  • when we are told our health is the most important
  • or even family
  • or things
  • or lifestyle, and so on …
    NO! They are not.  They can, in fact, become idols.
    A dynamic and developing relationship with the living God is to be top loyalty – then, everything else falls into its right place.  Strange that!

So, God is the one we are to love with all our heart, and mind and soul and strength … and our neighbour as ourselves.
Why?  Because he has first loved us.  That is who God is and what God does – today, in this church, and in this village.

For me, Costly love is his name; Costly love is what he does; Costly love is our calling!

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