Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)
LOVE, the theme for the month of February with Valentine’s Day celebrated by many and flowers, candy, and balloons greeting us every time we enter a store.
As Christ-followers however, can we go deeper than some of the materialism of love? I recently read Bishop Michael Curry’s book Love is the Way, I highly recommend it! In his words, he both challenges readers to listen to one’s own life and also to let your life speak. In the excitement and happy moments, as well as the moments of pain or boredom the love of God and community can surround us and lead us to the way of the holy.
Love is meant to be a VERB … something we do, not just a nice feeling. Loves calls us to action with force and follow through, it is what helps us direct our energy to being the good in the world our outrageous faith leads us to. Bishop Curry encourages us to get out and do! The one way to always connect to God who is love is to get out there and share love in all sorts of ways.
I often say that so much of how I experience the Spirit of God is through people. Initially, I think I thought it was because I can be an extrovert many times, but with age and time to reflect, I now realize sharing love with others and receiving love is a connection to the Divine. Early in high school, when a friend asked me to join a Bible study, I experienced love and community in new ways, learning to read the Bible on my own and connecting to different songs related to faith than I have ever heard before. In college, serving alongside non-profits in rural Kentucky and inner-city Chicago on spring break service trips for a few days put my faith in action by serving in schools or cleaning up a home for someone to move into, or tending to a community garden to get it ready for planting, I listened and observed through the stories of others how God was active in their lives; despite struggles related to socioeconomic status or lack of education or addiction, the people I met were some of the most faithful and positive people I have ever met. Every day was a gift and the hope they eluded in God and the love that was possible forever changed me and the other college students I served with.
So, as you celebrate love in 2023, challenge yourself to go a little deeper and reflect upon how God is calling you to love as a verb. Perhaps it is sending a note to your Pastor or a co-worker, perhaps it is joining a committee of a non-profit you believe is helping others in important ways, maybe it is volunteering for a cause you believe in or even driving kids to camp! Whatever you chose, serve with joy and love and grace and in so doing, God will meet you there.
The Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it is dying that we are born to eternal life.