“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God”
Tuesday is February 14, Valentine’s Day, a day devoted to sending cute notes to sweethearts, buying sweet gifts for our loved ones, going out for romantic dinners, and remembering how important love is in our lives.
The church has a knack for turning people’s attentions away from reality, and toward something better, something greater than ourselves, something that calls us to transform the reality we’re in, or the one we’ve assumed for ourselves. We do that at Christmas, when the days are most dark, the church talks about Jesus, the Light of the world. We do that at Easter, when we are weary of winter, the church points us toward rebirth and resurrection, just as green shoots push out from the frigid earth.
I know everyone will not agree with me, but I can’t remember a time when there was so much anger, so much fear, so much negativity, and yes – so much hatred, from all sides of social issues. It seems that our political landscape resembles a reality TV show much more than our past decades of civil debate and disagreement. I’m not taking a political position here, other than to say that I’m weary of how demeaning and dehumanizing our rhetoric has become toward people living through terrible hardships, and people who disagree about how to address social and political issues of the day. We might take comfort in the idea that one side is right and the other is wrong, but attachment to ideology really brings a false sense of how God sees the world.
It's time to break into this disappointing reality program with a word from our sponsor. GOD LOVES YOU!!!
What better time than Valentines’ Day to turn the attentions from a world being fueled more and more by hate each day, to the source of a different energy altogether, the source of all love, God, our great sponsor. The apostle John wrote some words two millennia ago that are poignant today. “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God”. This call to love is not a call to agree on everything. It’s not a call to stop talking about how hurtful injustices are in the world, or how damaging our attitudes toward others can be. It’s not a call to sit back and take abuse from the powerful without resistance.
Instead, when we understand that the source of love is God, the same God who embodied God’s nature in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we realize that anytime we build a wall, or draw a line between us and someone else, even if we are completely convinced of how right we are, Jesus is looking at us from the other side, calling us over, calling us out of our prejudices, hate, anger and self-righteousness, calling us just to love, love, love, love and love some more.
Normally, I’d be frustrated by a word from a sponsor, breaking my attention on what was happening in front of me. But I’m grateful for this interruption, this word from our sponsor. That no matter what is going on in your world, this word remains true – GOD LOVES YOU!
So beloved… Let us love one another!
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Devotions for Week of February 12
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Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church (GA) in New York City has been chosen as one of eight internship congregations to participate this year in a church-wide initiative designed to increase our understanding of Holy Scripture and most importantly, to cultivate our engagement with it. In partnership with The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Vicar John Heidgerd will be working to develop innovative ways to deepen our faith formation and sense of discipleship for the sake of ourselves and our communities.