Here is an audio recording of the Sunday morning Worship Experience facilitated by Beverly and Thea van Diepen:
All readings, poems and links to the original music used in this worship experience are given below for listening and download below:
Reading I: What is Love?
(by Thea van Diepen unless indicated otherwise. Read during the song Return Home.)
the bird in
its mother’s nest
If a storm should tear branch from tree
fling it to the ground
the mother would search
find it among the bushes
shore up the broken twigs
and continue to feed her offspring
“…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings…”
(from Matthew 23:37, NIV.)
The heart of God is a deft thing
Until it holds a megaphone
But it never blares
it is heard
in the quiet place
it is known
in the stillness of peace
it is seen
in the fullness of love.
And the fullness of love
is multifaceted as a snowflake
We cannot predict its features
But we can always predict its core
God is love
The rest is semantics.
“Whether I stand or sit or kneel in prayer
I am not caught in time nor held in space,
But, thrust beyond this posture, I am where
Time and eternity are face to face;
Where crossbar and upright hold the One
In agony (beat) and in all Love’s embrace”
(From ‘At Communion’ by Madeleine L’Engle)
A child-bird too long alone
maybe even skeletal
it cannot feed itself
it cannot leave the nest
to heal, it must, in the presence of its father
open its mouth
and take in nourishment
Lord, you are the healer of my heart
and I could never break beyond repair
Is not creation,
An expression of the love that
But where does that leave humans
here in the quiet places
making our songs
and carving our walls
with the profound and the sacred?
We try to discover the secrets of a universe
already open to us,
so what is Love
that we are something to it?
What is Love
that we are held in its embrace
as we kick and we scream and cry and bite and cut and bruise and whip and wound
What is Love
that we would behold it every day
and turn to our neighbour to say
“This is only ordinary”
And yet, the sun still rises?
What is Love
that we should receive its beauty each day
even when we deny the need
for aesthetic pleasure?
What is love?
It occurs to me, say the wind-tossed grasses beneath the fence, that love not extended to oneself is not extended to others.
We do not inhabit a space of perfection
(by which I mean flawlessness, not wholeness)
And here, where we live, God feeds us
and so, we are made perfect
(whole, not flawless)
we fly by his grace
we grow fat on his love
God is love
And love is the dweller of my heart
I’m amazed at how deep your love is
Show me more
I can never get enough of you
Though you’re here every day
Drown me in your sweetness
(The instrumental music for the following reading is written and played by Thea van Diepen. It is only available in the recording of the Worship Experience at the beginning of this page.)
(Italics are additions by Bev van Diepen)
John 3:16 (NIV)
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Who is this Son Jesus? I’ll tell you a story.
Taken from Matthew 20:29-34 (NIV)
As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho a large crowd followed Him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted out at him from across the road. Across the crowd.
“Lord, son of David, have mercy on us!”
The crowd rebuked them. Told them to be quiet. They cried even louder
“Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!”
Jesus stopped and called over “What do you want from me?”
They said “Master, we want our eyes opened. We want to see.”
These blind men lived each day at the side of the road begging.
A hopeless, monotonous life.
Was there a possibility for a new life?
Deeply moved, Jesus touched their eyes. They had their sight back in an instant and joined the procession.
Did you see that? Jesus moved to the other side of the road. Through the crowd. So close He could touch them.
This is where He is. Close enough to touch us.
1 John 4:10 (MSG)
My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.
Lamentations 3:19-24 (MSG)
I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter
the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve
I remember it all-oh, how well I
the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But I’ve experienced His love.
He has walked with me up out of that pit.
It’s a path of forgiveness, and healing.
The past can’t be changed, but I am set free.
…there’s one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
God’s loyal love can’t run out,
His merciful love can’t dry up.
His compassions are created new every morning.
Ephesians 3:16-19 (MSG)
My prayer: I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
‘Grand Embrace‘ is from the album ‘And I Heard the Sound of Laughter’, nominated for 2017 Inspirational Album of the Year with the Gospel Music Awards of Canada. Available on ITUNES, CD BABY or at www.cathyajhardy.com.