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Newsletter February 2019

 

February: the month of sweethearts, valentines, chocolates and roses. At least this is the popular approach
to this month. And notice that the romantic silent-film actor who caused women to swoon was Rudolph
Valentino, a living valentine. Actually, almost nothing is known about the real Saint Valentine, even though
His commemorative day among Roman Catholics, Anglican, and Lutherans is observed on February 14th.

 

Despite the sketchy nature of this holiday, which has provided a lucrative opportunity for Hallmark and Russell Stover, it does prompt us to take a closer look at what it means to love in the context of our
Christian faith. It would obviously be impossible to examine all of the facets of Christian love, however there
are several that stand out, particularly with regard to the times in which we live.

 

The best place to start is at the source of love. Consistent throughout the scriptures God is described as
steadfast, self-giving love. Even when one sees God’s wrath, it is the result of that love being spurned, and
there is the invitation to reclaim God’s love. Of course, the ultimate is God becoming one of us, human in
every way, choosing the way of self-giving to express the great redeeming love of God. “God so loved the
world…” (John 3:16). “But God proves God’s love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for
us” (Romans 5:8). In this is love, not that we loved God, but that God loved us…(I John 4:10). “We love because God first loved us”. (I John 4: 19) For us as Christians, the model is Gods love, the love that seeks a response from us. The greatest commandment is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”


These words are not new to us, but yet we confess the we have failed to do what is modeled by Gods love
and what God commands. It seems almost impossible from a human perspective; even when our intentions
are good, we seem to fall short. That is where God’s steadfast love gives forgiveness and the opportunity to
start all over again.


The difficult part is not to realize God’s great love, but to fulfill the second half of the commandment, to love
our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus even includes our enemies and those who would harm us, as well as the
vulnerable, the poor, the disadvantaged, the persecuted…and the list goes on. It seems as
if our society would rather turn a blind eye to those who need love the most despite what we claim to be.
As Stephen Colbert said, “If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don't want to do it.”

 

It is true that those words are pretty harsh and probably don’t reflect what we would rather be about. The issue is that, though we understand the command to love as Christ did, we often don’t know how to do it.
The fact is that we have to consciously seek out those who need our love, to seek to respond to suffering and pain, poverty and need, despair and depression, lives gone wrong. Undoubtedly there are those who are already doing these acts of love, but how much more could we do if we as God’s people together would seek opportunities to love others as Christ has loved us. This coming Lent, as we take time daily to consider all of those in our community, near and far, who need to know that they are loved, even if it is just words of encouragement and appreciation or in acts of caring, let us strive to identify opportunities for us together to reflect the wondrous love we have received from God. Let us band together to love one another and our neighbor as ourselves.

 

God’s peace and love,
Pastor Paul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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