We who follow Christ talk freely about loving one another, loving God and loving neighbor. We even speak of loving our enemies. But what does that really mean? How do we actually love?
One of the most challenging sermons I have preached in a long time wrestled with that question. Jesus loved passionately while he walked this earth. Jesus reveals to us that God is love. Love is the foundation of the church. Love is at the center of what it means to follow Jesus. At the very core of God, the very core of the Trinity, is a relationship of love. All of that seems so esoteric, so unattainable. Where to begin?
It helps me to begin with a picture. Rublev’s Trinity is an icon that pictures that relationship, that love, between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity_(Andrei_Rublev) See how each Person is turned toward the other. See the communion cup on the table, love outpoured, flowing into all of creation. God in Three Persons is unity, communion, turning toward one another. This is love. This is how God loves us and all of creation. This is what it means to be made in the image of God. This is how we love. We turn toward God. We turn toward others.
But then what? As the article says, the secret to love is just kindness. (See http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/06/happily-ever-after/372573/) We turn toward the other and offer kindness.
We can be angry. We can disagree. We can be honest and real. We love by turning toward the other and listening, rather than turning away and being mean. We think the best of the other, their intentions and motivations. Those individuals and groups that we deem different? We turn toward them and offer kindness. Those people who are suffering and struggling? We turn toward them and offer kindness. Those people who have hurt us? We turn toward them and offer kindness. Strangers? We turn toward them and offer kindness.
This requires a radical unlearning of the ways of power, greed, ego and violence. We learn patterns of love in the faith community. The waters of our baptism are the sign: We are drenched in God’s love and given the fire of the Holy Spirit in order to be love in the world.
So go love. Turn toward God and neighbor and offer kindness. It is that simple – and that radical.
On the journey with you,
P.S. We look to Jesus, Word made flesh, who experienced all the emotions that we do – and who invites us into what it means to be fully human. We need not run from our emotions and we need not let our emotions run us. To follow the Way of Jesus is to move ever deeper into authenticity and our true selves, the people God created us to be, in order to fully serve God.
One of the books I am using in this series is The Passionate Jesus by Peter Wallace. If you are interested in additional reading, here are some of the others I will be utilizing:
To Pray and to Love, Roberta Bondi
Soul Making, Allen Jones
Yearnings, Rabbi Irwin Kula
Healing Life’s Hurts, Dennis Linn & Matthew Linn
Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore
Learning to Walk in the Dark, Barbara Brown Taylor
The Broken Way, Ann Voskamp
Jeff and I will be offering enneagram classes, a personality discernment tool that helps in becoming aware of our default modes and aware of what we need to do to become more emotionally and spiritually healthy. The first class will be Wednesday, January 25, at 6:30 p.m. in the conference room. We will determine the content and the number of times we meet in conversation with those who are present.