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John 1:9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

They were two rather ordinary vases of flowers. They sat at opposite ends of the table in church. They showed no flower-arranging skill - they were just simple bunches of single mauve chrysanthemums standing there modestly and quietly. Then the clouds outside parted and the sun shone in through a window high in the church wall. It picked out just one vase. The dull mauve flowers were transformed, suddenly blazing with colour, the edges of the petals bright with light. They looked glorious, standing out from the shadowed wall behind. The other flowers at the far end of the table were still half hidden in the gloom. It's amazing what a little sudden sunlight can do. I sat and thanked God for light and the unexpected beauty it can bring. My eyes kept moving from one bunch of flowers to the other. "Which was I?" I wondered. The dull, almost colourless flowers in the shade or was my life etched in light? A touch of light can bring new colour, new life, even new meaning to things. So often in the Gospels Jesus talks about truth as light. About bringing light into dark places. And Jesus himself is described as "the true light that gives light to everyone." Let him light up your life today. And another thing - plants can't live without light. Can we? Lord of all beauty, shine your light on me today that I may brighten up the lives of those I meet.

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Being Free to Love Jesus came to us to help us overcome our fear of God. As long as we are afraid of God, we cannot love God. Love means intimacy, closeness, mutual vulnerability, and a deep sense of safety. But all of those are impossible as long as there is fear. Fear creates suspicion, distance, defensiveness, and insecurity.

The greatest block in the spiritual life is fear. Prayer, meditation, and education cannot come forth out of fear. God is perfect love, and as John the Evangelist writes, "Perfect love drives out fear" (1 John 4:18). Jesus' central message is that God loves us with an unconditional love and desires our love, free from all fear, in return.

1 John 3:23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.
Standard instructions you hear as the plane gets ready for take-off: "Please fasten your seat-belt and put your seat back in the upright position." Rules and regulations. "Only eight people in the lift". "Speed limit 30 miles per hour". They all make life safer when we follow them, although most of us forget the one about the speed limit. But life can't really be contained by rules. There's more to it than that. Every day we face situations with no convenient rule to tell us exactly what to do. We have to use our common sense and make our own decisions. We're on our own. Well, not quite. There are some basics for all of us, whatever our faith. To some the Ten Commandments are old hat, but if we followed them society would be a lot better. Then there's a rule from Confucius, "Don't do to others what you don't want them to do to you." That's OK, but Jesus put it positively. He said, "Do unto others as you want them to do unto you." It's one thing to say that you've never done anyone any harm, even if it's true. It's quite another thing to actually do some good. The first rule is one of respect. Acknowledging a person's space, not treading on his or her toes. The other is a rule of love. Not hurting people is great as far as it goes, but love has to be proactive, if you'll pardon the jargon. It means getting out there and doing some good without waiting to be pushed. Jesus said he had come into the world to offer us a better life. He came. He didn't hang about waiting to be asked. And neither should we, if the love that is at the heart of the universe is going to be part of our lives.

Lord of my life, teach me your rule of love and help me to understand that it offers freedom, not constraint.