Blue Coat School 11/2/2004
1 Corinthians 13
All You Need is Love of course, reminds us of the Beatles. That song is of the great anthems of the 1960s, which has stuck because it seems to mean something profound to a lot of us. Rather like the words of St Paul which we heard just now - which go into quite some detail about what love really means, what it looks like when we live it out.
I was reminded of the Beatles last week when I visited a house just next to Mendips, John Lennonıs childhood home in Woolton, a pleasant place with a view of the woods opposite, birds singing, nice garden, only interrupted by vehicles thudding along Menlove Avenue between town and the airport.
Mendips is now owned by Yoko Ono who donated it to the National Trust. There was a TV programme about it on last week. At the public opening of the house last year an interviewer asked Yoko, Did Lennon's surroundings inspire his art? You could tell that she wanted to say yes, to justify her investment in the place, but her instinctive answer was, "No, it came from inside him." Which is probably closer to the truth.
But closest to the truth about what nurtured Lennon's art is probably the way his Aunt Mimi brought him up, in a straightforward caring, firm but supportive way; a loving way; Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
No doubt the house played a part in making John Lennon what he was. Itıs the sort of place of light, space and calm which helps creative minds flourish. But also through tragedy: he never forgot twice seeing family members killed by cars on that fast road outside.
Interesting watching that TV programme, to see how much effort the National Trust and Yoko put into conserving this place. One National Trust manager sneered at the project and said, "This isn't what the National Trust was set up to do."
Now, their website tells us that by preserving and protecting Britainıs coastline, countryside and buildings the National Trust encourages millions of people to enjoy their national heritage. If you think the Beatles are part of our national heritage then you may agree with me that the critic was incorrect.
The great thing about Mendips is that it isn't 'great' at all. Itıs a house like yours or mine. The great thing about preserving it for the nation is that it serves as a tribute to ordinary, decent folk like Aunt Mimi, to households struck by everyday tragedy, warmed by companionship and care, where bedroom dreamers like Lennon are given space and encouragement to be creative and express themselves.
Thereıs no mystery about love. It is in ordinary homes like Mendips, and like ours, where people learn and share its meaning.
We are loved by others - let us see that, and be thankful;
We are loved by God - let us understand that, and celebrate;
There is love in ourselves, for others - let us know that, and grow it;
And where love is lacking, let us pray that it will come
To transform our lives and our world.
In the name of the God of love. Amen
Talk based on my blog of 5 February 2004.