Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Happy Valentine's Day
Suffice it to say Valentine's Day has been muted by the preponderance of stories of sexual harassment and abuse from the powerful and the confusion left in the wake of it all over where to draw the line. How do you have Valentiine's Day when some, perhaps many, consider it abusive and unacceptable to compliment a woman on her looks or dress? In the same vein, considering Oprah's speech and the example of black but still seductive dress at the Golden Globes, it appears we are all somewhat confused. Is harassment and abuse something so hard to define that you can only know it when you see it? I wish I had some wisdom here. But I will leave that sit for you to ponder.
In the midst of all of this comes the call of the Lord to return to Him with humility, prayer, fasting, confession, repentance, and faith. Why? Because the hammer is about to drop? No, because He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. Not the self-serving or self-seeking love that passes for affection too often in our day. Not the manipulative love that has an agenda, a hidden agenda, to use or even exploit. Not the love that fills the moment but only the moment and neither begins nor ends with fidelity, commitment, or sacrifice. Nope. None of these. This is the love of arms outstretched in suffering upon the cross, the innocent suffering in the place of and for the benefit of the guilty. This is the love that does not confront sin with the shrug of shoulders but calls it what it is and calls the sinner to repentance. This is the love that does not ask you to ascend to its place but comes low to where we live, for us and for our salvation becoming incarnate -- like us in every way but sin. This is the love that tells the sinner there is something bigger than his or her sins and it is the power of mercy given to those who neither merit it nor have the right to ask for it.
Tonight you have a choice. Take your significant other to a restaurant, put a rose on her plate, maybe some piece of jewelry, and look alluringly into the eyes across the table with a wink in the hopes you may get luck later. . . Or take your significant other to the place where we come in ashes to be washed clean and adorned with a righteousness not our own, to hear in our ears the life-giving Word of rescue, renewal, and redemption, to taste upon our lips the sacrificial love that feeds, nourishes, and nurtures those whom He has reborn in baptism, and to leave, with the aid of the Spirit, endeavoring to live out in holiness the new life so graciously granted to you. AND then from this love. . . husbands learn to love your wives as Christ has loved the Church and wives learn to love your husbands as God's man in your home and the result will be peace and contentment beyond understanding (no matter the ups and downs of this mortal life). . . for with God on our side, who can be against us?
I say this not because I don't think much of romance. I am a romantic at heart. But I cannot abide the confusion of romance with love, lust and desire with love, and the fullness of a moment for a lifetime of loving service. Love is not made better or easier or more rewarding by making it smaller. It is in the appreciation of love's greatness manifested in Jesus Christ that our own love for one another is made more noble, more profound, and, yes, more rewarding.
Will we see you in Church tonight?