Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
There is a suggestion, here, that we have a duty to emulate our parents. As strange as that may sound now, it is only a couple of generations since children routinely lived lives indistinguishable from those of their mothers, fathers, or other caregivers. Children dressed in miniature versions of adult clothing and here, in South East Northumberland, boys typically followed their dads down the pit until the 1980s.
Today, we perceive teenage rebellion as a cultural norm – a rite of passage – with some parents becoming worried if their youngster doesn’t wear questionable clothes or have appalling taste in music. Focusing on the ways that generations differ, we ignore all that we have in common until, that is, the day when we hear ourselves saying one of our parents’ catchphrases and discover that we too have unconsciously become replicas of what went before.
If it requires no effort – or even will – to become like somebody we haven’t chosen as a role model, why is it so difficult to imitate God as today’s passage requires? Sadly, it goes against the standards and customs of our place and time to give as freely as Christ. In fact, if there is one thing our capitalist society is firmly against, it is giving something for nothing. So much so that we are even afraid of getting something for nothing and most people look for a catch when unexpected generosity occurs. Perhaps, then, a first step to giving as freely as God is to learn to receive freely, simply saying “thank you”.
Beloved Father, help us to receive gratefully allowing others the pleasure of offering us their love and care. Let us learn how to emulate your generosity through example and make our lives a fragrant offering and sacrifice to the Christian doctrine of love. Amen.
Helen Wilson, Local Preacher, South East Northumberland Ecumenical Area.