Week 1 Day 1: God is Love

“…we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.
I John 4:16

God is Love
The conditions of your life – to whom you were born, how you were raised, how you were helped, how you were hurt, how you’ve been encouraged or discouraged, how you’ve lost your way along the way – it’s in those conditions that God has met you and God will meet you. God’s love for you is without condition.

– Br. Curtis Almquist



Transcript: The focus for our first week is “God is Love” – that God’s love for you is unconditional, which is to say that the conditions in which you have known life – to whom you were born, how you were raised, how you were helped, how you were hurt, how you’ve been encouraged or discouraged, how you’ve lost your way along the way – those are the conditions in which you have known your life. And it’s in those conditions that God has met you and God will meet you.

Not just in the best of times. Hopefully you’ve had some wonderful times where God’s light and life and love has been mediated to you through people and through the circumstances of life. But also in the worst of times, which may well be how God has most broken through to you.  When you are without hope or power of your own, your experience of brokenness becomes God’s breakthrough.

We’ll talk this week about how God’s love for you is without condition.

Our focus for today is God is Love. And we draw our inspiration from I John 4:16: “God is love. Those who abide in God, abide in love and God’s love abides in them.”

Now, that verb, abide, is repeated 63 times in the Gospel According to John and the three epistles — 63 times! Now, why the repetition? There are some things in life that do not need to be repeated. We don’t need reminders. For example, we don’t need to be reminded to breathe several times a minute in order to do that. We don’t need to be reminded to sleep some every day. Maybe to sleep more, but we will sleep at some point during the day.

So, why is this recurring reminder to abide? I think it’s because many of us are prone to run away. We cannot imagine that God could or would love us, given the circumstances of our life. We’re not disciplined enough, focused enough, generous enough, forgiving enough, compassionate enough.  We’ve got our list of rejections because we find those rejecting qualities inadmissible and unacceptable. We presume that God is blocked out.  And yet, I think it’s exactly the opposite: that God will reach through to us in the best of times and God will also reach through to us in the worst of times. And the invitation is not to run away but to stay where we are, which is where God is going to come to meet us, where God’s light and life and love for us will be mediated.

A question for you: Think back on your life. How has God’s love for you been mediated? Through whom has that happened? How has that happened, that you have come to know something about God’s love? And then conversely, where do you find in yourself any resistance? Is there something about you, who you are, how you are, as you are, the way you are, that you think precludes God’s love for you? I beg to differ. I beg to differ.

We invite you to share your reflection here >

86 Comments

  1. Dorothy Wilson on 03/16/2018 at 7:06 pm

    I am ready late in following the Lenten program. When my husband was in hospital recently with a mini stroke, I keep my emotions inside until i went home. My body shook, I was in shock and full of despair. I keep praying Holy Spirit you are welcome here, help me Jesus. I heard a voice I AM HERE



  2. Penny Bonneau on 02/25/2018 at 1:44 am

    Thank you all who have shared your thoughts and experiences. I wrote down many of your comments and will re-read and think about them. I have difficulty putting my thoughts into words. I never realized before that so many of us have this feeling of being unworthy of God’s love. The encouraging advice to turn to be open to God and stand and wait is helpful to me as is Fake it Till You Make It. I am thankful for this Lenten opportunity.



    • Mattie on 03/02/2018 at 9:49 pm

      I am beginning this study late in the season of Lent. In my life God has ministered to me in song. At three my parents volunteered me to sing a solo. The song was Love Lifted me. I know in my head that God has always loved me. But unfortunately, there are times that I have to be reminded in my heart. Thank you for this awesome study.



  3. B Hynson on 02/22/2018 at 6:43 pm

    A powerful message that God loves us as we are. A truly loving God. In doing kind acts and loving things we are indeed showing God’s love and grace for each other and for God. One of my favorite songs is “Amazing Grace”. Peace be with you.



  4. Linda Rogers on 02/21/2018 at 7:19 am

    After I watched this video (on my phone), I closed my eyes to meditate on it. I was immediately struck that Br. Curtis’ negative image, created when I closed my eyes, was that of an arched gateway or portal. As I meditated on the image, I was drawn to the reality that each person we encounter is indeed a portal or invitation to experience God’s love.



    • Gwen on 02/23/2018 at 6:28 am

      #Meeting Jesus.
      I am not certain what meeting Jesus means. The instructions said who was the first to tell you about Jesus. Well my parents did as a child but I am still having conflicts with the term meeting Jesus. Meeting Jesus means we interacted when we met , we acknowledge each other. Over time I grew to realize that God loves me more than anyone on this earth. He has demonstrated his love to me though my feelings. I prayer openly and silently to him and he puts my fears to rest, my joy he shares and I share his goodness with my daily people contacts.
      Hope this response does not confuse anyone.



  5. David John Drew on 02/19/2018 at 9:14 am

    Contemplation and Prayer

    O Loving God, I come to this season of Lent lacking, though I have forsaken but a few things of the world – as much as I am capable of renouncing for your sake. I know truly and with utmost sincerity that my most powerful desire is to surrender myself entirely and totally to you, yes – I am prepared to give my life, whatever I have called my own, to you as the only true gift worthy of presenting. I feel as though I am standing stretched between the miraculous Epiphany of the Lord, his birth in Bethlehem, and the long, deep and dark passageway of Lent that leads us all to the bitter, thorn piercing tragedy of Calvary and death. I stand on the border between conception, birth, life and death. Yes, death and annihilation. My mind is consumed with fear and dread at the prospect of the finality of death, that there is nothing beyond it – and the thought consumes me and becomes a nightmare. O Lord, are you there waiting for me?

    Lord, I have tried to search you out and attempted to avoid all distractions that the world offers, I battled with myself yearning to empty my body of all inordinate desires and meaningless affections… to cultivate within some part of me a space, a vacant room and invite you in – to beckon and persuade your Spirit to dwell within me – to fill that which was nothingness at the very core of my life – a center that could become sacred and holy and untouchable. A hollow in which the Spirit, your Holy Presence could dwell, to abide and exercise your awesome power of love – in silent and peaceful solitude. For that is what I found that I craved above all things in my lonely and desperate despair – the pure and sweet essence of your love within me. To feel your immortal touch.

    O gracious and sublime Master, I am inarticulate and uncultured, wanting in the lessons of Divine love. O Word of God – bless me with your thoughts and eloquence to articulate and animate the exquisite voice that you whisper through all the motions of my life. Provide me with the talent to speak your word to the world as a devoted disciple, and give me the strength to endure to the end with undoubted trust and faith in your will alone. Beloved – abide with me through the storms and silences of life.

    Lead me, feed me – only you may I ever need.

    + Amen.

    Pax – David



  6. Barbara on 02/19/2018 at 7:54 am

    Hello , I am thankful I have a chance to follow this through lent, with reading on here, and study group at church.
    In 1961 I Was Baptized In Emmanuel Episcopal church in East Syracuse N. Y. That same year I ask God to please come into my heart. However because my parent’s moved us around a lot did not grow up going to Sunday school or church much. And our Family life was always a place of upset. But Felt my Aunt was the one who watched and prayed As I got older and understood more. I would allow God to work in my life.
    Must say after my father passed in my Senior year, I rebelled against my family, causing them ma y sleepless nights. Than a pastor came into my home shortly after my marriage at age 21 on the request of my Aunt to pay me a visit.
    I joined the Moravian church and was a member for 46 years, taught Sunday school for 17 0f those years, lead a mid week children’s program on Wed nights. And much more. But in 2014 upon losing my husband to Cancer. Nothing was right, felt God stepped away from me. Our grown Children stopped attending church. I felt in some way I failed them . Their spouses went, our Grandchildren went. But something happened with the three of us . Than More trouble happened between my son and I which made me think now what?
    So I left the Church. And went back to my Roots. Found a Episcopal church in my neighbouring town. And started attending. Something hit me that made me feel good inside. Than More happened shortly after. Got word my Only brother in 2016 was told he only had a month to live because of a brain tumor. It was a difficult time. But Felt God was putting people I needed all around me. So I am feeling stronger, and glad Of Choices I have relied on God to help me with. Felt that he truly is my strength.
    And hope this will also bring me even closer in knowing what God is wanting me to do.
    Thank you for allowing us to share our experiences. And only skimmed what took place in my youth and young years. But I am thankful knowing I am not alone.



  7. Anne W Garrett on 02/18/2018 at 12:33 am

    Thank you. Enjoyed reading all the comments.



  8. Dot Gunshol on 02/17/2018 at 11:00 pm

    I believed in Jesus and His Love as a young child, thanks to my father’s teaching me about Him, and at the age of five insisted I go to a Sunday School in a church that taught me about Jesus. That belief stayed with me for a number of years; yet after watching my first child nearly die as a toddler, then losing my second baby at three days, I lost my way. These messages about God’s Love – His Perfect Love – have resonated and helped me get back into my prayer life with more fervor. I keep them all and write in the book each time and look forward to the next message.This series is helping me to understand that I am not unworthy of His Love, but rather that he cleans up my messes and is way ahead of me looking out for me. How wonderful it is to say that God loves me too and not just other people. Thank you so much, Dot



  9. Philip Ritchie on 02/17/2018 at 9:18 pm

    What a beautiful video Brother Curtis. We put your quote from the introduction to the book – the one that ends – ‘I feel a profound sense of not being alone’ on the front of our Lent booklet this year here in Cowley. Very excited for SSMJ Cowley to be beginning the course with you all. Many thanks,
    Phil Ritchie



  10. Jack in B.C. on 02/16/2018 at 8:53 am

    Thank you for this first meditation. Very helpful, as right now I’m wanting to run away – not so much from God though God is a bit unreal to me right now (though “God is love” is a bit of a mantra for me), but from everything really – or from here at least. I’m dealing with some heavy scat right now, and the temptation is to just throw everything up and walk away. I would if I could, but I know I can’t really, so I feel a bit trapped. A friend/colleague last week suggested that maybe I’m wearing “golden handcuffs,” and maybe they’re right. Your focus on the word “abide” was bang on target. Thank you.



    • Jane Goldring on 02/16/2018 at 7:44 pm

      Thanks for that information Curtis. We where fortunate that my Aunt & Uncle lived closed by. If ever there was a true Christian it was my uncle. Both Aunty Marg who was Moms twin sister and Uncle Bram where very good to us. To-day we are still a family though there is only my sister Sue & I left. My mieces & nephews are very good to me. I am very lucky to have such a loving family. The brothers are very good to me also. You learn to help one another out and are there for them. Monday is family day and will be going over to Sues to celebrate with all the Cobb kids and family. What you give usually comes back. Thanks Curtis. Jane



  11. Sally Harris on 02/15/2018 at 5:19 am

    My Mother died suddenly and unexpectedly 2 months ago. She was old, but not really. A power outage led her to fall in the dark and break her hip. Healing had begun, but after a few weeks infections and complications overpowered her and she died. I hurried to her bedside and arrived one hour before she died. I sang Abide With Me as she lay dying. At her funeral the congregation sang it full out.
    I have grown close to this word through my experience. I hope God will meet me where I am, in my sorrow. I was blessed today when in an Ash Wednesday service in Manchester, Vermont, the priest commended this Lenten program.



    • Mattie on 03/02/2018 at 9:55 pm

      Sally your are indeed in my prayers. Loosing ones Mother at any age is difficult. I was 49 when my Mother joined my Father and other relatives in Heaven. Abide with me has always been a hymn that evoked peace within my spirit. I’m sure your singing it as she transitioned made her journey more peaceful. I pray that God will continue to wrap you in His loving arms and that your joy is restored.



  12. Jennifer on 02/15/2018 at 2:07 am

    Thanks so much for this Lenten offering and the opportunity for prayer and reflection on meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John.
    How has God’s love for me been mediated? The first time I can remember God showed his love for me was when I visited a friends church at around eight years old and heard Psalm 23 for the first time.
    Through whom has that happened? My friends mother was loving and kind in a way I had not experienced before, she invited me to church with their family and said she always had a special place in her heart for me because I was a sensitive girl who was experiencing difficulty at home and didn’t have anyone to advocate for me there.
    How has that happened, that you have come to know something about God’s love? When in my 20s and living as a single parent of two young children I met a number of Christian families with young children. These Christians showed kindness and love toward one another and were an example of God’s love. I wanted to know this God they spoke about and eventually heard and received the gospel. I met my husband who has consistently showed God’s unconditional love, acceptance, grace, and forgiveness.
    And then conversely, where do you find in yourself any resistance. I resisted God’s love and message of grace for years but once I really heard and responded to God’s call I have been all in.



  13. Susan Simmons on 02/14/2018 at 10:50 pm

    I have a tendency to only want to be close to God in the good times—when I’m doing well and feel like I’m in a good place with my spiritual practices. During the tough times I tend to retreat, reserving my right to be mad, seek revenge, and engage in numbing behavior so that I don’t need to deal with the situation or my less than Godly response.

    I know God love me unconditionally. I was fortunate to have parents that extended that unconditional love to me, but as I did with them, I try to earn it, nonetheless. Be perfect and shine or be HORRIBLE and disconnect. (Yes I do have a curl “right in the middle of my forehead” and remember identifying with that nursery rhyme as a child—PROPHETIC…it probably should be BANNED from by Mother Goose!)

    As I have moved through life and the bumps and mountains one often climbs in their journey, I am increasingly aware of this tendency, so that even in the midst of it, I can take a moment and feel Gods love and protection surrounding and assuring me! If only I could live in that moment! I do find myself releasing the concern and entrusting the situation to God, only later to resume the worry and anger and numbing.

    During Lent I hope to spend more time enjoying the assurances of God’s unconditional love, so that, in difficult times that is my default mode.



  14. James on 02/14/2018 at 9:23 pm

    Who am I that The Lord should love me? I don’t deserve God’s love and there’s no way I can earn it. It is by faith and faith alone. If I could earn it, when would I know I’ve done enough? And I certainly don’t deserve it because of my sin. I deserve death and death alone because without Jesus I am nothing.



  15. vivian on 02/14/2018 at 8:40 pm

    God is there for me at all times and I count on that. It is when I turn to face him that the relationship becomes real for me. I meet him especially as I correct lessons for students of the Bible who are imprisoned. Their struggles help me to engage in a deep contact with their life, my life and all our lives in God.

    Thank you for this study.



    • Brenda Terry on 02/15/2018 at 1:14 am

      I have been on the edge of giving up. And wanting to leave this life. God shows up each time e to let me know?, I am still with you. When I can’t encourage myself. I always encourage someone else. My heart is broken. I lost my daughter to AID,s in 2006.He sent the Holy spirit to let me know, that a storm was coming. To prepare me for what was about to come. In April 2006,she lost her battle. I was mad,
      Everything , that I was taught. I lost my desire .to really worship him as he deserve. And it came to me that we belong to God and we’re born to die. I looked at church a different way. Church people disappointed me. I still hurt today..I search for him and I think he doesn’t listen to my prayers anymore. So ,I don’t
      pray as often. But, I feel, he still listen, but in his time. My Daughter didn’t belong to me, but God. My life doesn’t belong to me.. My marriage failed
      My prayer has always been?,Show me Lord, what is your purpose of my life? It just hurt so bad..not knowing, just existing. I know He is love, he is the true meaning g of this life. And this to will pass.



      • Mattie on 03/02/2018 at 9:59 pm

        I’m so sorry for the many losses you have experienced. I pray that God’s love will continue to sustain you. You are His precious child and you are His Bride, never forget that. I am praying for your heart to be comforted and for peace to surround you completely.



  16. Mabel on 02/14/2018 at 1:39 pm

    This bible verse and video really resonates with me. I think that in my life, I have fallen into the danger of trying to please God through good deeds that I have not remembered his unconditional love for me. Thank you for reminding us of the nature of his love. I love the word ‘abide’ – in prayer and in song!



  17. Michael Bouchard on 02/14/2018 at 9:23 am

    Abide! “They will build houses but they will not live in them”. I for one built my house and it was filled with (faith, hope and love) heavenly treasures I did not provide. I was an outsider looking in; I was a receiver and not a giver; I never felt like I belonged; an unwelcome guest in my own house, I owned a house and not a home. Because of my selfishness I ran away from responsibilities and did not use the gifts that were given to me for the benefit of others. But God is truly a loving being because in spite of all of this I never felt unloved by Him. This fueled extreme guilt and fear of God in me and I became very depressed. This sparked me to pray for forgiveness and made me ask God to accept my offer of a specific sacrifice in order for me to feel penitent for my sins. The sacrifice offered would not be of my own doing but of God’s. But let me warn you; be careful of what you ask for because you just might get it and I did. And now that I have successfully made the sacrifice and suffered the consequences I feel overcome with a feeling of great peace and joy. I now feel comfortable in the house I built and can call it a home. This all came to fruition because of the love of God and that is the true meaning of the word abide for me. 1 Corinthians 13



  18. Karla Tolomeo on 02/14/2018 at 3:11 am

    We are prone to running away because we can’t forgive ourselves, so we can’t imagine how God could want to be in a relationship with us. It is so hard to not run but to turn and stand and wait. Show up, and you will be met.



  19. Jimmy on 02/14/2018 at 2:00 am

    I see myself in so many of the comments that you all are sharing. Thank you! I can relate to the feeling of unworthiness. How can God love someone like ME? Society has been telling me for years that I am different, unclean, sick, weird………. I reached my low point around 24. I remembered the one place that always seemed loving to me and that was my childhood church. After God put a wonderful, kind and patient therapist in my life, who encouraged me to attend a worship service as “homework” my life has been transformed. 29 plus years later, I know I am loved by God and am worthy of it just for being the person He created. It’s that simple. May I always be reminded of His presence during good times or bad. Amen!



  20. kevin on 02/13/2018 at 8:15 am

    I would say when i became a father watching my children grow, learn , explore , love there innocence. and then the feeling when they get sick , hurt , or in trouble .I only heard or saw my dad cry twice. once when i was young before he couldn’t take it anymore and then joined A.A. Then when i was 30 .I was building a landing on my house listening too a Christian music station the same on my dad listened too when i lived home .tears where running down his face has he was walking too the back door. i asked my mom why he was crying and what was wrong .she told me the where tears of joy because i was listening to worship music. God reminds me of these moments often . i would imagine God doesn’t feel much different with me with us .



  21. Jaan Sass on 02/13/2018 at 8:15 am

    think of the many times in my life when darkness, depression and other issues overwhelmed me destroying myself and others in the wake. Despite all the places I’ve been and regrets that I put myself through I caught glimpses of God’s love carrying me. When I had given up on myself and others and trashed my life, there was his love. His love was made manifest through my family, Church, new relationships, and professional help.
    Sometimes when I look back, I fear to acknowledge God’s Love not feeling worthy of it. In those times I implement a phrase I learned in 12 step groups keep faking it until you make it in others words I will continue acting as God loves me until I believe it.



  22. Annette Fricke on 02/13/2018 at 3:54 am

    My love for God and my maternal grandmother began simultaneously because she lived in the same block as the church. My mother’s father was a founding father of the church in which I was raised. The words I would use to describe our pastor from my baptism almost to confirmation would be that of Joy and Discipline. He sang for the processional and filled the space of that church! I loved it and wanted to be a pastor because of him. At a later time, after my first communion, I felt an immense, profound peace that I will never forget. God became very real for me. It was rather like the Velveteen rabbit becoming a real rabbit after receiving the love of the boy. The discipline part of my first pastor was scary and it took me a long time to translate that into obedience–obedience to God which meant that prayer, communication with God, was very important for the rest of my life.
    I have learned over the years that I need to be patient and wait for God, that things take time. Sometimes life is like an old wrinkled shirt with holes in it, filled with troubles and frustration and at other times it is perfectly whole and grand, as if every tomorrow will be filled with joy.



  23. Paula on 02/13/2018 at 2:32 am

    In 1994, I experienced some strange health problems. I finally found my way to a medical doctor who did some tests and blood work. I was required to wait an entire month for the results. I was told that I could have any of a number of illnesses, some easily treated and some incurable. Needless to say, I was upset. I spent a lot of time praying. I was reading a book on prayer at the time and experimented with something called a “breathe” prayer. I prayed over and over, “What do you require of me, Jesus?” I would inhale on the first few syllables and then exhale on the last few syllables. Over and over, I prayed this prayer. I was expecting to be given requirements (maybe do some good deeds, get rid of some bad habits…) One day while breathing my prayer, a thought came to me without any fanfare or drama. Just a simple thought: “BELIEVE THAT I LOVE YOU.” It was so different than anything I would have come up with on my own. It seemed to me that I had been given a reply. At the end of the month, I was given a diagnosis and have lived with a long-term illness for over 20 years. My experience has not been as bad as what some people with this illness experience. Comparatively speaking, it has been manageable with lots of ups and downs. I was provided medication that I have been able to afford and tolerate without horrible side effects (at least so far). I was so excited to have received an “answer” but looking back and reflecting, I have never really done what I was told to do. Do I really believe that God loves me? I certainly do not act like it. I am so full of anxiety. I do not trust easily or even at all. My experience in 1994 was unique. Usually, when I pray, the answers come through the people in my life (sometimes family and friends and at other times strangers). Maybe this Lenten Season is an opportunity to reflect on that experience years ago when I believed that God had replied to my prayer.



  24. Nicki on 02/13/2018 at 1:25 am

    How I am, an independent survivor who wants desperately to commune and work more closely with God is probably my most inhibiting feature that puts space between us. I don’t doubt God’s love, and through 82 years of struggle to get where I am today, I could fill a book with the amazing ways God’s love fore me has been mediated. And my Gratitude is growing. Yet the resistance is still there and very real. I’m looking forward to a fruitful Lent!



  25. Mary on 02/13/2018 at 12:04 am

    I am so thankful for my God. And for this Lenten offering of prayer and reflection tools. How do I know of God’s Love? Through others and love and support during life’s difficult times. I am grateful that I know the only that precludes me is ME when I don’t stay in communication and relationship with God.



  26. Mary on 02/12/2018 at 9:01 pm

    My Nana represented unconditional love to me as a child. She was a woman of faith. In her final years her physical health declined and as she suffered. As I passed by her room, I would hear her pray for God to take her. When that didn’t happen, I chose to believe God didn’t exist, a loving one anyway.
    Thankfully, when she died, a Christian friend was there for me, and mediated – intervened – interceded, and re-introduced me to God. The vision that I would be re-united with my Nana was almost too good to be true. That friend has been my spiritual advisor for the past 40 years.
    Thirty-five years ago, I was stricken with an “incurable” cancer. I had to suffer mightily myself for a year and a half, until an experimental treatment was offered. During my own suffering, I learned that God does not promise to rescue us from the predicament we are in, but he does promise to be with us in the midst of it. On realizing that, I felt disappointed at first. But I prayed that his presence would be enough for me. I searched the Bible for what God did promise. He promises eternal life. I prayed to fully comprehend what that is.
    God answered my prayers then, and is still speaking. I am ever-so-grateful for every trial he has allowed in my life. Every single one has drawn me closer to Him.
    My resistance comes from a critical spirit. I feel I am never good enough, never worthy enough, never loving enough, never doing enough for God. I am always falling short. Yet the times I have served God most successfully, have been out of deep love and gratitude for Him, not guilt. I hope and pray this Lenten experience helps me get back into a right relationship with God, and quiets the inner voices telling me I am unworthy and inferior.



  27. Pat on 02/12/2018 at 7:48 pm

    I was intrigued by the word abide: to me, abide conjures visions of homes. In the home where God is, not only is my shelter, but a home for those whom I encounter, a place for others to visit or to abide. This is a thought I will carry through the day!



  28. Mary Coogan on 02/12/2018 at 7:26 pm

    What a blessed way to begin this series. Thank you, Curtis, for this LOVEly message. It’s especially meaningful to me to recall all the loving people God has sent to me during my life. Each has been a really important part of my life.



  29. Denise Loeber on 02/12/2018 at 6:49 pm

    The concept of God’s love for me is overwhelming at times. I’ve been a follower of Jesus since I was a little girl, but always felt that I was disappointing God. I never truly grasped what it meant by unconditional love. In my 30’s I read through the book of Ephesians and it was there that I saw Jesus and saw that we live “in” Him. It isn’t about what I do or don’t do, it’s about his LOVE. The love that crucified all my sin that set me free, that changed my life forever. I now walk in a new freedom, the freedom of God’s love!



  30. sue hole on 02/12/2018 at 6:06 pm

    I never felt loved or safe as a child, and now, through adversity i have found faith in God, and felt loved for the first time. but – I need to believe in his love more deeply, as i am still displaying old pattern behaviours i want to pray to let go of – that is when I feel fearful i resort to anger and aggression in defense. I wish I could be mindful every moment, holding on to God’s love and reflecting this light around me , especiallly to my loved one. I will keep trying, as i want to repent, and would like to get baptised this year.



  31. Ruth rogers on 02/12/2018 at 5:03 pm

    I was raised as a Christian going to Sunday school taught Sunday school sang in the choir being a lay reader present went on a cursillo weekend being there and church gives me strength courage love is such a powerful gift



  32. John David Spangler on 02/12/2018 at 4:34 pm

    That God loves, is love, is a fact. Recognizing that it is no more than a firm grasp of the obvious. The problem for me, for us, is not in knowing that to be the case but rather in remembering that fact, trusting in it, and allowing it to abide in and with us. It is His love that has blessed me with 89 years and with those who have touched my life. As Br. Curtis there is nothing that precludes God’s love for us except ourselves. We must always remember that we are always in His holy presence and enjoy that gift.



  33. Sue on 02/12/2018 at 2:14 pm

    What lovely words ! I have a very ambivalent relationship with God…on the one hand, I feel Him guiding me a lot of the time, on the other, I don’t really see myself as a ‘ proper’ Christian. I am an intermittent church goer and most of my family and contacts are sceptical of organized religion, so I often don’t feel that He would accept me. So the idea that He loves me unconditionally is a bit hard to get my head around. and yet…he keeps calling me back as with wanting to do this Lenten study. I also feel a sense of being guided very gently when I ask.
    Maybe He doesn’t need me to be a ” proper” Christian…now that is a radical idea…that He loves me anyway?



  34. Sefronia on 02/12/2018 at 11:02 am

    I have struggled with the concept of God’s love for me for some time. I read Scripture every day and have repented and asked forgiveness for my past sins.
    My biological father abandoned me & my sister as young children (2 years old)when he and my mother divorced. My mother remarried so he allowed my stepfather to adopt me and my sister. I never felt loved by my new adopted father. I felt shame like something was wrong with me. So, the thought of God loving me unconditionally is a foreign thought. I work on it all the time & God has been very good to me. I just struggle with the feeling of being loved unconditionally.



  35. Mary Anderson on 02/12/2018 at 7:09 am

    I know God’s love through different ways. I hear Him speak to me in sermons; to help show me the way. I see Jesus in the faces of the patrons who attend our churches’ soup kitchen. I feel His compassion when my heart aches for my children. The times that I seem to lose sight of God is when I take a bigger look at the world and I get lost. I get lost in the suicide bombs that kill or injure 100’s; I get lost when I see people, animals and homes lost in natural disasters. I get lost when I hear of people killed on the streets. Where is God’s love in those situations? I pray for the Hope that God has given us in His son Jesus Christ.



  36. Susan Oldrieve on 02/12/2018 at 6:57 am

    As a young person I felt God in the natural world. I don’t have much time any more to go walking out in the woods to abide in God’s love and beauty there, but I’ve learned to see God also in the joy that I get from working with my college students, in my grandchildren, and in many many other joyful moments in my life. Yes, God was there very intensely when I was struggling with a bad marriage and the emotions that come with divorce, but for me, abiding in God means basking in his love in all the joyful moments that I feel in my life, and being grateful for that love.



  37. Margaret Dungan on 02/12/2018 at 6:56 am

    I will not be making responses to this program on a regular basis but I do want to say how grateful I am for it.
    I have always loved St, John’s Gospel as long as I can remember. There is always more but I want to spend the time with that more in quietness. I hope that is an acceptable way to participate in this program.

    Margaret



  38. Jack Zamboni on 02/12/2018 at 6:50 am

    Thank you, Curtis, for the reminder of the invitation to abide in Jesus love as he abides in us. A gift to know that I don’t need to go somewhere else to discover, or maybe re-discover, the depth and abiding presence of God’s love. So grateful for your ministry and that of your brothers.



  39. Sherry on 02/12/2018 at 6:48 am

    I first experienced unconditional love from my grandmother. So for me the concept of God is love is a wise family matriarch. Many decades later as my beloved dog was dying and my daily routine focused on keeping her comfortable, it dawned on me that as I loved her unconditionally that was how God loved me. I most often experience God’s love in my inter-species connections with dogs, cats and goats. We are all part of God’s creation and God’s children.



  40. Pam on 02/12/2018 at 5:50 am

    Alcoholic father and enabler mother meant I had to raise myself – but not really. My earliest memories are not of my parents, but rather of being in relationship with God. I would hide behind a living room chair and pray that someone else would become my mother. Life hasn’t been easy, but God has been with me. Every. Step. Of. The. Way.



    • Pam on 02/13/2018 at 7:45 am

      I had an abusive childhood, but I didn’t realize it at the time. I thought my experiences were normal. Looking back, I can see all kinds of ways God loved me and took care of me. He sent other adults into my life who were loving to me, thus balancing out what I did not get at home. And I went to a very nurturing Quaker school where I felt safe; it was a haven for me. I never knew until I was in my fifties that I was abused and, for that matter, could not even remember my childhood, until incidents started coming back to mind. Those were my years of despair but also healing. I confided to my pastoral counselor one day that I was worthless, but within an hour of leaving his office God gave me a word of knowledge that I was his “beloved.” Knowing God loved me changed my life. My biggest point of resistance continues to be trying to control my life and not turning my problems over to God. Surrender is difficult for me, and it seems I have to get to a point of desperation for it to happen. Maybe that will change, but even if it doesn’t I know God loves me anyway, no more/no less. I feel so blessed.



  41. Susan on 02/12/2018 at 5:42 am

    I met Jesus at an Ivy League School where my biological parents sent me to have a nervous breakdown. The school was in NY State where the drinking age was 18. A Notre Dame drop out whose father was in the FBI turned me on to the New Testament and then just enough pot to start my gargantuan alcoholism. I wanted to abandon politics read the classics in translation and write fiction. I wanted to follow the New Testament and let go of academic and political success. The establishment, the school and my biological parents wanted to punish me the rest of my life. I joined a UU church as an unempowered Universalist A Jamaican-American Art teacher at Mass College of Art loved me unconditionally in allowing me studio space for independent study. Soon after 4 years of studio at Mass Art. I fell in love with a man whose response was to propose marriage and to ask for an AIDS test I tested negative. He tested positive. I cried away the rest of my time of fertility. He saw me briefly and asked me ti be a Christian again. I want to go to heaven to see him again. I joined Emmanuel Church of Boston after 27 years of sobriety in AA. I was baptized in less than a year. The congregation including the priest loved me unconditionally just because I arrived looking for spirituality



  42. Bobbi on 02/12/2018 at 4:16 am

    I learned of God’s love the moment I was born though my mother’s unconditional love for me. I was blessed with this love for 72 years until she died at age 101. This love continues to sustain me, for love never dies.
    How can I not believe in the love God has for me when I know deep in my heart that my mom was the first grace in my life. My challenge is keep abiding in this love and not take my blessings for granted.
    I pray that this Lenten series will help all of us, individually and as an on-line community, to abide more and more in God’s love.



  43. Mary Johnstone on 02/12/2018 at 3:20 am

    Thank you Brother Curtis for these wise words & questions. God’s Love has been mediated to me through a perceptive Priest who noted some of my “issues” & negative attitudes coming out sideways. He advised spiritual direction. From that moment, I began to know Jesus as a loving, compassionate, understanding, non-judgmental shepherd to whom I could speak the truth. This began my saving & healing spiritual journey. Praise God!! I am still on that journey, learning, listening & loving the life I have been given.



  44. JoAnn L. on 02/12/2018 at 3:07 am

    I begin by answering a question with a question: what does it mean to ABIDE in God’s love? To stay, to live, to dwell, to be. . . . how does one abide in God’s love? I have had moments of feeling God’s love; in a kindness, in music that soars to the heavens, in a ray of light entering through stained glass, in the beauty of nature, in doing something kind myself. But those are fleeting moments, just enough to know God is, just enough to hunger for more. How does one abide?



  45. David Ames on 02/12/2018 at 2:27 am

    I have been a member of the Episcopal Church throughout my life. The death of my sister when I was 6 years old and she was 8 as we were walking back to school having been home for lunch was a significant moment in my young life. The minister of our Church came to our house that afternoon and, to give my parents space to grieve, took me to our neighborhood church where I could find a place to be regardless of my understanding of what had transpired. Years later, following college and military experience, I was ordained and spent the next 50 years in parish and university ministry. Knowing people from many religious or no religious backgrounds, plus several personal life experiences, have brought me to understand that God is everywhere, present in creation and in the multi universes of our limited understanding. We are in God and God is in us. This very reality is the abiding love of God in and within all that is and is to be. For me this is the sustaining, abiding, life of God’s Holy Spirit.



  46. Damon Hickey on 02/12/2018 at 1:56 am

    For me, “abide” means not leaving (or running away) and living: your abode is where you live as well as where you stay, in other words, home. So already here we have the idea of mutual inherence–Jesus in the Father, the Father in Jesus, Jesus in us, we in Jesus, the Father in us, we in the Father. Not just staying/not leaving, but also being united. I think that’s what makes me anxious: I honestly don’t know whether I want that close a relationship, that much intimacy. I’m not sure I’m ready to invite someone to take up permanent residence in me! What if we don’t get along? What kind of roommate would Jesus be anyway? Do I have to share everything I have with him? I think I’d rather live across the hall, or maybe next door, with a connecting door between us. Hanging around or hanging out (that first sense of “abide”) seems okay. I think I’d like that. It’s just the living together, or even more intimately, being Jesus’ AirBNB, is what scares me.



  47. Ted Seibert on 02/12/2018 at 1:15 am

    In the mid 1990’s, I had pretty much given up on God. A 2 1/2 year battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma was followed shortly thereafter by the death of my son at the age of 22. That resulted in the end of a 27 year marriage. I was down and out. But God came through. I met the most beautiful, most wonderful woman who pulled me out of the depths. We have been married now for 17 plus years, and are very active in our church, surrounded by people I love and people who love me. God is Love ❤️ ❤️❤️



  48. Jan L on 02/12/2018 at 12:41 am

    Thank you for offering this series. Thank you for reminding me that I need to take a break daily from my theological studies to contemplate on God’s Word and God’s love. May God bless you all.



  49. Patricia Barnes on 02/12/2018 at 12:37 am

    I am so glad to hear that I may not be the only Christian who does not feel that I am in any way deserving of God’s love. I think this series will be really helpful. I try to reassure myself that God does love me – warts and all!



  50. Vanessa Rose on 02/11/2018 at 11:53 pm

    Dear Br. Curtis:
    This is a wonderful opportunity from the Brothers for each of us across the world to deepen our faith in God an be part of a community as such. I will pray for all of us on this journey as we discover more about God and his abiding love for us.

    It is interesting to me that if we look at the Synoptic Gospels how there is a mirror created in the texts as we also see in 1 Corinthians 3:13 “And the greatest of this is Love” one of my favourite passages that has become a daily mantra in my daily walk with God.

    It was through my late mother at a very early age of 2 years of age, that I learned about God’s love as mother and I would share our bedtime prayer together. Kneeling together at the bedside, to this day I still remember the words. My faith is strong and I remember to see God’s love in all I meet. I like to be a mentor of sorts in my Lay Ministry journey. Later after middle years, I listen to God’s voice and studied theology. Life is a journey we share with God and with others. Vanessa



  51. Tom Bailey on 02/11/2018 at 11:19 pm

    To abide is to accept. It takes an act of will AND the grace of God to accept God’s love(Agape)



  52. Nicola on 02/11/2018 at 10:24 pm

    I am looking forward to this series. Thank you, Brothers. I am tired of feeling numb. For me, the birds churping in the background and the beautiful trees and greenery are a sign of the beauty of the Creator’s love for us.



  53. Dr. Russell K. Carter on 02/11/2018 at 9:23 pm

    As a young man, I attended the Christian Science Church in Summit New Jersey. One of the main lessons was the many names of God; the first being Love. For God so loved the world . . . but it was more than that; we learned that God was a permanent part of our lives, only if we allowed him to be; otherwise, we would lose our way. As a teenager, I knew better; I knew that I was master of my own ship, and nobody, nothing could stop my progress. Of course, I was directionless. I failed out of college; I entered the Marines, only to lose my way there and be medically discharged for physical infirmities. This is something that I have had to live with since I was 22 years of age.
    I have had good times and bad in my life; one would think that most were bad. I inherited a small business from my mother and turned it into a potentially profitable camera/photo studio/ processing lab. The dream did not last. I quickly lapsed into a state of depression, not allowing myself to succeed. Fortunately, the Love of God enveloped me. The business failed completely, and my direction turned to education, which is where God wanted me all along. But I knew better. I entered education with a dream and a purpose. My own dream; my own purpose. Not God’s.
    Although I experienced a great deal of success, I was still not happy. Depression kept gnawing at my every waking moment. Physically, I was paying the price of age and some unfortunate accidents and illnesses. Then I retired! Sort of . . .
    I ceased thinking of my own success and began thinking of my relationship with God. It was great, except for the fact that it was all one sided. I took and did not give. God stepped in to cure me of a period of intense pain; I began to listen, not with my ears, but with my heart. All the good deeds I was doing through my mind, were revealed to me to be shallow. I began thinking with my heart, thinking with Love. God’s Love.
    I am a child of God; therefore, I am Love. I can be nothing less.



  54. James Sullivan on 02/11/2018 at 9:06 pm

    This is beautiful!
    Thank you Brother!
    No need to say anything more! I need to listen more, to “yield”, to be teachable. I look foreword to Lent.



  55. Pam M on 02/11/2018 at 8:35 pm

    After years in an abusive and controlling relationship, I lost hope that God cared and loved me so I walked away from Him. God reached His hand to me through a texting coach who shared God’s unconditional love for me and walked me through leaving the destructive relationship. His love and provision for me at such a difficult time was a miracle and daily I am grateful for His grace and love. I was given new life in Him and in this world. Thanks be to God!



  56. Aly Goodwin on 02/11/2018 at 8:33 pm

    Do we go to where God is
    or does God come to where we are? Because Jesus is without sin, how can He come to where we are? When
    I try to find Him, I seldom have much luck; and then at unexpected moments of joy, there He is ! But I need Him
    when times are nor so good also.



  57. Gloriamarie Amalfitano on 02/11/2018 at 8:21 pm

    I read The Return of the Prodigal by Henri Nouwen. It really brings home the idea that our true identity, the truest thing about any of us, is that we each of us are God’s beloved.



    • Carlo on 02/12/2018 at 3:13 am

      It’s a great book! I’ve read it twice.



  58. Julie on 02/11/2018 at 7:17 pm

    God’s love has been mediated to me through my husband (such a sacrificial love that is unconditional and undeserved), my children (nothing compares to the unsolicited love of a child who delights in you…and especially a teenager giving you a big hug), and through beautiful souls God has sent throughout my life who poured into me what I needed for spiritual nourishment at that time. God especially mediates His love to me now through my spiritual director and fellow spiritual directors.
    I have come to know something about God’s love through His people. I am overwhelmed at the ways in which souls of depth and autenticy come alongside me to care not only for my soul but my physical and emotional wellbeing. This certainly reached a new height for me while in LTi’s Selah program, awakening a new level of hunger and thirst for more.
    I don’t find any resistance that I am aware of as I sit with that question, although I am sure it must be there in my human flesh. The awareness I do have is an immense longing for more and greater intimacy with Jesus, to spend the entire day wrapped in His Presence and fullness of His love. I struggle to find community and relationships in which I can continue to be nourished spiritually outside of direction. In almost all other relationships and realms, I am the one feeding and nourishing them. But Jesus is feeding me Himself.



    • Ellen Uebele on 02/12/2018 at 8:54 pm

      Hello fellow Selah grad! Everything you wrote I also experience! Keeping connected to the Brothers, especially listening to Bro David’s voice online, opens Selah space and nourishes me. The same in spiritual direction. So glad you posted here!!



  59. judy Hulse on 02/11/2018 at 7:14 pm

    I now know that God has paved my path since the beginning of my life. His light seems to be getting brighter as I grow older. I look back at my life and all of the turmoil and chaos and how He has always been there to guide me and push me ahead toward Him. Love, Judy



  60. George on 02/11/2018 at 7:09 pm

    I have been shown / given God’s love through many people in my life. My Mother, Sunday School Teacher Annetta, Bishop Rustin, Fr. Al, Bob & Aloha, My Church family, My Cursillo Family. This list could go on. It has always been a struggle for me to accept that I am loved & that love is unconditional.
    I strive to be open for God to fill me so that I overflow to everyone in path – that they can see & feel Christ’s love through me. And when I fail – to forgive, dust off and try again.
    Peace, George 🙂



  61. Craig Burlington on 02/11/2018 at 7:09 pm

    Mother & Granny immediately spring to mind: unconditional love from the moment I have any memory, and that’s almost 70 years ago!
    Very loving and giving people shaped my psyche/soul in ways for which I am eternally grateful.
    Any pushback from that came through the shame society inflicts upon us, for a myriad number of reasons, but pretty soon as an adult I began the lifelong trek of healing.



  62. Carlo C on 02/11/2018 at 6:03 pm

    Once upon time I used to follow God because in reality I was scared of him and I was scared of hell. I was trying to live a holy life, but sin was (unfortunately) more powerful.
    Now that the Unconditional Love of God has finally pierced my heart and I don’t believe in eternal punishment anymore, I’ve noticed how sin has lost his grip on me. God has free me from an addiction that tormented me for almost 25 years and I will celebrate my first year of Freedom in a couple of weeks.
    Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to dig into the ocean of God’s Love.



    • linda on 02/11/2018 at 9:42 pm

      Congratulations on your Freedom. It’s true…I John 4:16: “God is love. Those who abide in God, abide in love and God’s love abides in them.”



  63. Stephanie Denson on 02/11/2018 at 5:33 pm

    Thank you for your ministry! I look forward to journeying through Lent with you and learning more about Jesus.



  64. Ruth rogers on 02/11/2018 at 5:14 pm

    How true this is god loves us with no expections or judge good topic to think about especially the part of forgiveness for me I can some how to forget but forgive seems to me not my vale’s this was an open mind if god can forgive there is a way I can forgive something for me to medicate on.



  65. Kathleen on 02/11/2018 at 4:55 pm

    Good morning and thank you. This Lent I am trying a four-week meditation program. This morning was my first session of sitting and then I got your email. I’m hoping that meditation will become for me a place to practice “staying where I am” and accepting myself as I am, so that I may truly feel that God loves me as I am.



    • Pat Waring on 02/15/2018 at 8:13 pm

      Hi Kathleen,

      I am moved by all the wonderful comments here, and also by the daily reflections by the Brothers. so grateful to have them!!!
      I was especially struck by your sharing as I also am trying to discipline myself to a daily meditation through Lent. The format is really Buddhist meditation, or mindfulness, but fits well with my Christian beliefs and practice (Episcopalian). It is a challenge to discipline myself to sit, read, and reflect daily….although I am an active churchgoer, and involved in worship and other activities, and also I pray throughout the day. But I like you will work to sit and meditate daily this Lent. Thank you for sharing!!



  66. Reed Saunders on 02/11/2018 at 4:46 pm

    I felt I never needed God…until my wife died of brain cancer and I fell into the deep pit of despair and alcoholism. God caught me in loving arms and returned me to sanity and health. Today He is my constant companion.



  67. Richard D on 02/11/2018 at 2:44 pm

    Thank you Brother Curtis, for your thoughts and questions. God’s love was mediated to me some years ago now – June 8th1986 to be more precise! When my heart was “Strangely warmed” to quote another wonderful Christian man, John Wesley. I know God is love, but I have not shared his love as well as I might. Perhaps it’s fear of looking foolish, perhaps I’m on the wrong path – too much church and not enough Jesus. But all is not lost, I’m sure God is doing something in my life, and I welcome this. Maybe these reflections are a part of what He’s doing – I hope so.



  68. Jurinesz S on 02/11/2018 at 4:11 am

    I have been ashamed of some things I have done in the past. Some things that I’ve done are unforgivable, according to human standards. But I find assurance and strength in that God loves us unconditionally and that God’s grace is, as one theologian put it, “vulgar grace…”

    It is still hard to abide in God’s love if I focus on myself. But the challenge is to focus on who God is and not ourselves.



  69. Barbara B on 02/11/2018 at 1:36 am

    Some years ago when my children were young I drifted away from regular church attendance. My husband was transferred to Townsville in his job and to help with my son’s University college boarding fees I went back to work at an Anglican school. Through a comment made by one of the teaching staff I decided to go back to church. Not long afterwards the priest invited me to become a Liturgical Assistant which after much prayer I accepted. One day after hearing the story of the Prodigal Son (which I had heard many times before) it occurred to me that I was like the prodigal son in the way God welcomed me back into his church and offered me forgiveness. I have been a dedicated follower ever since.



    • Sue on 02/12/2018 at 2:18 pm

      I felt I had to reply…do you mean Townsville Australia? I lived there for 3 years recently, and lived across the road from the Anglican cathedral so used to attend there sometimes- though more often attended the Baptists at Kirwan.
      I’m now back in Canberra due to family reasons, but still miss Townsville!



    • Mary Vazquez on 02/12/2018 at 8:01 pm

      Dear Friend,
      When I read your story it sounded very close to my experience. We could not find a church where we fit in for the children. After my marriage ended a friend of mine took me to an Episcopal church. It was like coming home again ! The payers and litergy were slightly different but I learned about God’s unconditional love and have remained here for 30 years. My children have also found themselves a church although different than mine, I am grateful they are practicing their faith.



  70. Daniel K on 02/11/2018 at 1:34 am

    I grew up “In the faith”, it is my cultural heritage; along the path there were times that I felt ‘God’s’ presence, but who/what that was …?
    I am less than a speck in the huge universe … I am “loved” by God, the energy that started and continues to empower the universe? … I hope so, need to believe so, or is this all there is?



    • Patricia George on 02/12/2018 at 8:08 am

      I have wanted to feel God’s presence but have not felt it as I know others have. He has relayed messages to me, however, through other people. They tell me what had been put in their hearts re me. At times of desperation, He has relieved extreme despair, physically removing a heavy dark blanket feeling… Starting at my feet, I could feel it lifting…. Moving up and away or if my head, after which I felt I could deal with the situation, felt hunger for food that I had not felt in weeks, could work, felt a knowing that I was going to be ok. I have realized, too, times that God put people in my path… Sometimes to help me, sometimes for me to help them, thereby helping me know more certainly that God is here, within, and without… The energy that is the stuff of all there is in this universe and beyond.



    • C.Sinnott on 02/15/2018 at 12:22 am

      I also grew up in the faith (Trinity Lutheran mother, Wesleyan father, c/e myself plus morning assembly in girls school with student reading the a.m. gospel. I have taken His presence for granted. At present I am fairly bedridden ,so ewtn on tv with regular rosaries and meditations daily keep me in touch with God, Holy Spirit, Jesus and Mary/Joseph. Jesus gave His mother,for care, to John when He was on the cross.



    • Bishop Hollywood on 02/18/2018 at 11:56 pm

      My favorite song is Amazing Grace. Why, because it reminds me of no matter what have done or said, God loves me so much that he looked beyond my faults and extended his amazing grace. Now, does that give me a license to continue down the opposite path from God? In my opinion, no,but what it does do is give me a license to turn around and follow the path to God.