Valentine’s Day is coming up and I have to say I’ve never been a big fan of this holiday. During my long years as a single pastor, I enjoyed an Austin music station’s “Anti-Valentine’s Day” show. Even now as a married person, I resist the message that somehow being coupled is the cultural norm and that if you’re single then there’s something wrong with you. I don’t buy it. Valentine’s Day seems more like a racket to increase the sale of cards and chocolate than about love. And while my words thus far might sound overly cynical, I mostly am just yearning for more love in the world. Real love.
Given all that seems broken in our government and the painful reality that we have not journeyed that far in overcoming the sins of racism and sexism, it is easy to fall into despair and heartache. I am not the only one worrying for my daughter’s future. What kind of legacy are we leaving? In my weakness, I fear the future.
The power of Jesus is that He continues to come to us over and over again – right in the midst of our fear and worry. In the Gospel of John, Jesus is preparing his followers for his departure. Certainly they feared the future. It gives me some comfort to remember that even the disciples had moments of tremendous anxiety and worry. In response to all they were experiencing, Jesus gives the disciples a new commandment. “Just as I have loved you”, he says, “you also should love one another”(John 13:33-34). Jesus invites them – and us – into the way of love.
In a recent article Diana Butler Bass writes, “As 2020 has begun with anxiety, fear, confusion about the future, [the Gospel] reminded me of the way – the way of love. Keep walking, friends. None of us is sure where the path goes, but if we stay the course, we can trust that God is with us.” While many are asking about and commenting on the State of the Union and the State of our Church, she challenges us to consider the State of our Souls. Grounding myself in spiritual disciplines and staying close to Jesus seems the only hope I have for choosing love in the midst of my own fear and worry.
“The love of God…is stronger and more powerful and persistent, larger, greater and more eternal, than anything we do.” – Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, President of Union Theological Seminary and author of Call it Grace