Dear Family of St John’s

When my eldest son was about three years old, we took him to the Addo Elephant Park for the first time. We were going to see the elephants! He was so excited. We were excited to see his reaction to these huge animals.

The first thing he noticed when we entered the Park was a warning sign, and it caught his attention. It warned motorists to keep their eye out for dung beetles. Well, this fascinated him, and he wanted to know all about dung beetles.

We saw hundreds of elephants that day, but not one dung beetle. And, believe me, we looked! It’s all he spoke about for the whole trip. He wasn’t interested in the elephants or the warthogs, in the kudu or the zebras. All he wanted to see was a dung beetle. He was thoroughly disappointed with our outing.

Fast forward a few years and we now had two young boys, with the youngest being about three years old too. We decided to brave Addo Elephant Park again, and prayed the dung beetle obsession had passed.

Fortunately, the elephants were intriguing enough to keep our eldest entertained. He asked every question there was to ask about elephants and tried to count how many he saw that day.

Our youngest wasn’t interested in the elephants, or anything else we’d seen that day, something else had captured his attention. On our trip home, while chatting about everything that we’d seen, my husband asked the boys what the most exciting thing was about the day. The youngest piped up, ‘Thunder!’ The sound of the thunder from the storm during our outing was all he wanted to talk about!

Dung beetles and thunder. We can’t visit Addo now without listening for the distant sound of thunder and eagerly looking out for dung beetles. We saw five last week when we took a trip out on the public holiday!

I’ve been thinking about the ways in which we show love, how God shows us His love in everyday situations. We know that God demonstrated His love in the grandest, and most sacrificial way, through Jesus’ death for our sins.

But it’s not only the BIG things – the elephants – that are important. I’ve been noticing the beautiful sunrises on my way to church lately. Don’t these also remind us of God’s love? Or the beautiful red berries on the bushes outside my office window – they’re glorious at the moment.

When we try to understand love, we often picture the grand gestures — the sweeping acts of heroism, the epic sacrifices, or the profound declarations. Yet, for me, it’s the subtle, everyday gestures that truly capture the essence of love. It’s in the mundane, the routine, and the seemingly insignificant moments where the purest expressions of love are found.

Scripture guides us to this truth. In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, often referred to as the “love chapter,” we’re reminded that love is patient and kind. It doesn’t envy or boast; it’s not proud. It doesn’t dishonour others, it isn’t self-seeking, it’s not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love doesn’t delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

These verses speak not of grandiose acts but of consistent, everyday attitudes and behaviours that reflect the love of God.

Consider the small gestures we encounter daily – the warm smile, the sincere interest about someone’s well-being. It’s the gentle touch on the shoulder. It’s the simple act of listening to someone’s joys and struggles. These are the moments where we tangibly experience God’s love in action, and where we show our love for others. Acts of kindness, no matter how small, have the power to transform lives. These gestures ripple outward, spreading love and hope in a world that desperately needs both.

While grand gestures may be inspiring, they are often fleeting. Small, everyday acts of love can become a part of our lives and be a natural outpouring of our faith and devotion to God’s people.

And so, I encourage you to consider those often-overlooked acts of love – the little things that are done for you, that you could do for others, that demonstrate love. Consider the dung beetle and the thunder, don’t only look for the elephants.

With love
Your friend and rector,