Martyn Smith, writing about Wesley College

(For a Service of Thanksgiving for Sarah's life, Alexander Room, Glen Waverley Campus, 18 July, 2003)
(Published with permission of her family)

From the Order of Service:

“I think it was about five this morning that I opened my Testament on those words, ‘There are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, even that ye should be partakers of the divine nature’.”

-  John Wesley, quoting from 2 Peter 1:4, in his Journal entry for 24 May, 1738 ... the day during which he came to understand clearly what it meant to be a Christian and from which he began his most dramatic work.

“’Tis Love! ‘tis Love! thou diedst for me:
I hear thy whisper in my heart!
The morning breaks, the shadows flee,
Pure universal love thou art:
To me, to all, thy mercies move,
Thy Nature and thy Name is Love.”

-  Charles Wesley, John’s brother, enthusiastically identifies “the divine nature” in one of his hymns.

'Words of Community', spoken to open the Service:

“’Tis Love! ‘tis Love! ... Pure universal love thou art: ... Thy Nature and thy Name is Love.”

This is Charles Wesley’s wonderfully exuberant realisation of the divine nature … of the nature of God.

And, of course, it is love that brings us together today.

John Wesley, as he came to the crescendo of his search for faith, was awakened on that May morning in 1738 with St Peter’s extraordinary assertion that mere humans could be participants in the divine nature.

In response to being loved, they, too, can love.

I was not fortunate enough to attend the Thanksgiving Service (at The Salvation Army Waverley Temple)  for Sarah a week or so ago. 

But, as I have spoken with people who were, I repeatedly have been told of the inspiring view of strong, positive and unconditional love that was present within that Service.

I have been told that numerous were the testimonies that this spirit shone from Sarah … particularly through her smile. 

But it wasn’t only in her smile, was it?

It came also from her actions, from her attitudes, her courage, her faith … from the very depth of her part in the divine nature.

Sarah was loving … and she was loved. 

Many have commented to me about the inspiration that they received from the devotion of Sarah’s family in resolving never to leave Sarah to suffer her ill-health without their company … of their faith, their hope, and, above all, their love.

It is this spirit of love revealed through Sarah that is just as real today as it was throughout her earthly presence. In this spirit, Sarah lives.

But what characterises love? 

Our best clue, in my opinion, comes in the thirteenth chapter of the Gospel according to John, where, with his death imminent, Jesus shares a last meal with his disciples and, at one point, insists on washing their feet … a vile but crucial task necessary in the ancient world, performed by the lowliest servants or slaves for their lords and masters.

Explaining his action, Jesus says “I, your Lord and Teacher, have just washed your feet. You, then, should wash one another’s feet. I have set an example for you, so that you will do just what I have done for you.”

A moment later, Jesus gives his now famous new commandment … “Love one another. As I have loved you so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.”

Love is not selfish. It seeks to serve, even at a cost. It seeks to help and to give, to uplift and to save.

It comes as no surprise to us, then, that Sarah, whose mission statement is printed on the back of the Order of Service, won selection as the Social Service Prefect for 2002.

As we share our thoughts today, let us be thankful for this wonderful, loving person.


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