Many years ago the Vestry, or Board, of our church discerned a mission for our congregation. A mission statement is an attempt to articulate God’s highest and best purpose for a specific parish family, the unique and compelling reason for us to exist as a congregation. After many months of dedicated prayer, we heard God call us to this shared mission: To know Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and to make Him known. To this mission we have been called for almost 25 years. Several years ago our evolving church staff decided to specify in more detail an annual ministry theme to guide our budgeting, worship, parish life offerings, and overall strategy for that year. For 2020, as you know, our ministry theme is LIVE LOVE.
Tonight we gather for the first of several Wednesday Lenten soup suppers, reflecting together on the theme of Love. Our Hebrew and Greek forebears wisely drafted a vocabulary toolbox of many nuanced descriptors to more accurately explore this multi-faceted and complex human experience. English for some inexplicable reason bundles that nuance into one simplistic word. Our loss! I am excited to hear the wisdom of our excellent ecumenical colleagues as we gather in warm fellowship. For the moment however, I am stuck on the simple challenge our ministry theme presents me. To enact love in a concrete and proactive way to…who? When? How? Our society presents a torrent of such corrupted, narcissistic and immature fantasies about love it is hard for me to place all that aside to hear the Holy Spirit guiding me towards love which is authentic. Transparent. Unconditional. Appropriate. Fun. Playful. Gentle. Safe. Patient.
Warm. The essence of the gospel itself, it seems to me, is all about love. John’s church tells us that above all things, God is love. Jesus reminded us, forcefully, to love God, and then our neighbors, and then ourselves. Sin works hard to completely obfuscate the overwhelming force of God’s redeeming love. Jesus came, I am more convinced now than ever before, to provide a living and clear model of God’s beautiful, divine love. As I am loved, so I am compelled to love others and myself also. Lent is the season to love more, and more deeply, and more generously, than ever before!
- How do I define, experience, receive and enact love in this moment in my life? In a concrete and truthful way before God and for others?
- How I am being called to love myself in an appropriate and life-giving way this Lent, perhaps in a way I have never before given myself permission to do?
- Who I am being called to love this Lent, not out of lust or desire to control, but rather as a response to God’s generous love for me? To whom is God calling me to share His love?
Warmly in the Lord,