This is a holiday to celebrate love! That means many people feel left out, sad, wishing that they had someone to get flowers from, or someone to send flowers to. Many will re-read old Valentine’s Day cards from dear loved ones who are gone.
This melancholy caused by a date on the calendar is not unique to Valentine’s Day. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be painful reminders of love lost or a love that was never known.
My hope is to include everyone in this Valentine’s Day reflection. No parishioner left behind! To that end, let’s look at the most famous love poem ever written. The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Christian Church in Corinth writes about a more excellent way: LOVE.
Love is patient.
Love is kind.
Love is not envious.
Love is not boastful or arrogant or rude.
Love does not insist on its own way.
Love is not irritable or resentful.
Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing.
Love rejoices in the truth.
Love bears all things.
Love believes all things.
Love does not lose hope.
Love endures, Love never ends.
Faith, hope, and love abide,
These three; and the greatest of these is love.
The Bible tells us that “God is love.” This beautiful poem speaks of God’s perfect love for us and gives us something to aim at as we seek to love each other.
No Parishioner left behind! Here is your exercise for today. Go back to the love poem of Paul and take out the word “love” and replace it with “God.” Reflect upon those words knowing that “nothing can separate you from the love of God.” God just loves you! Isn’t that Good News?
Now then, go back to the poem again and put your name in the place of love. Print it and put it on your refrigerator. Read it slowly and prayerfully. How does that sound? Does it accurately describe you?
As you go about this day, this week and the rest of your life, read this personal poem every day as you work toward God’s ideal. I believe in you! I think that over time we can all be more patient and kinder. We can check our own envious and boastful natures. We can seek to be less arrogant and more humble.
God is not done with us! We are a work in progress. Partner with God, put yourself in the path of the Gospel, and practice a love that has nothing to do with falling in love.
See you this Sunday!
“Do not be afraid. Fear not.” That word from God to humans appears 365 times in the Bible. Is that a coincidence? For each and every day in the year – 365 times – God tells us not to be afraid. And yet, we are afraid.
When we are born, in our purest state, formed by God and carried in the safety of our mother’s womb, we are only afraid of two things. The only fears we have as a newborn are instinctual. We are afraid of loud noises, and we are afraid of falling. That’s it. The rest of our rational fears come to us by our human experience. We should be a little afraid to cross a busy highway, or to swim too far from shore. Rational fears may keep us alive.
But many of our fears are irrational. They are taught to us by professional worriers, or we catch them like the plague from media sources or politicians who peddle fear. Volcanoes, terrorists, pandemics, airplane crashes, spiders and snakes are real, but they are not a real threat to you. Even death, which will come to all of us, is not to be feared. I have been there; it is far more peaceful than scary.
Is it a coincidence that God tells us 365 times not to be afraid? I don’t know, but the theme is not an accident. The God who created us, knows that we are easily given over to our fears. We are afraid and the fear that can keep us alive, can also keep us from living. Fear, in the right measure, can protect us but when fear is unchecked it can enslave us.
I know that the world seems to be crazy, fragile and dangerous right now. Spend too much time watching the news and you will be convinced that things are worse now than they have ever been. In reality, that is simply not the case. This longing for the good old days is romantic recall; nothing more. The truth is, on most days, most of the people in the world live in peace; their days are routine, unremarkable, not affected by corrupt politicians or natural disasters.
What now? Should we work for peace? Should we advocate for justice? Should we address climate change? Should we be a voice for the voiceless? Should we be concerned for marginalized or oppressed populations? Should we demand that our politicians be honest and faithful? Should we vote? The answer to all of the above is YES!
Be energized by your calling to follow Jesus. Be energized to positive action – do not be paralyzed by your fear.
“Do not be afraid. Fear not.” Repeat 365 times, and I will see you this Sunday!