I want you to know that God loves you and goes on loving you whether you come to church or not. To get God to love you is not the object of the exercise. As St Paul makes clear in his letter to the church in Rome, there is nothing you can do that will separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (see Romans 8. 31-39). No. The reason we come to church is not so that God might love us, but that we might learn to love God and that we might learn to live God’s way; not just us, but all the world. So if you are here for the first time, or for the first time for a long time, welcome. Please don’t walk away. Because God is all merciful and all loving, and the rest of us are here, not because we are so good or so faithful or so generous, but because we are also learners in the school of God’s love, trying to find out how we can best respond to the challenges of Jesus, and knowing that whatever we do, or don’t do, he goes on loving us.