Friday, February 2, 2024

A Question of Timing

 February has arrived, and we find ourselves in the “Love Month.”  As I have thought about this, I find it puzzling that February has become associated with love in general and romantic love in particular.  I know no one who declares February as his/her favorite month, but many people hold love in the highest regard.  At least in our part of the world, flowers are available only if you want to purchase hothouse grown or imported varieties.  Taking a romantic walk on the beach or in a garden has little appeal in February.  February may be the Love Month, but it is easy to understand why most weddings are celebrated in the summer months.

 

And so I did some research about the history of Valentine’s Day.  I expected to find that February was somehow associated with a St. Valentine.  But there is a good bit of debate as to what historical figure is really connected with our celebration of Valentine’s Day, and the association with February is even less clear.

 

If I ran the world, would I move Valentine’s Day to a warmer and fuzzier month?  Although Valentine’s Day is largely a secular holiday, I think I can make a good Biblical case to keep it right where it is.  God’s love is unconditional and remains consistent and passionate regardless of circumstances.  And He calls us to love with His love.  Regardless of cold temperatures, grey skies, trying circumstances, and “unlovable” people, we are to love.  The love God lavishes upon us and calls us to share is not the sentimental (and sometimes insincere) love that is commonly expressed on Valentine’s Day.  God’s love pursues the “target” and works for his/her good; it expresses acceptance and grace; it offers second chances. 

 

Valentine’s Day in February is a helpful reminder to us that love is not about easy, or comfortable.  It is also an encouragement to rejoice in our Lord’s love for us and to invite the Holy Spirit to enable us to bear His fruit of love not only on Valentine’s Day, not only in February, but every day and every month.  Indeed, this unbelieving and hurting world desperately needs to see God’s love in us, among us and through us.

 

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Christmas Spirit

 Early and mid-December generally finds us in full anticipation mode.  Christmas is coming!  We purchase gifts, decorate our homes, plan special meals, and prepare for parties.  ‘Tis the season to be merry and bright….

 

And then, if and when we dare, we look at the news.  Wars and rumors of wars.  Displaced migrants.  Human trafficking.  Natural disasters: earthquakes, volcanoes erupting, hurricanes and tornadoes.  Suffering of unimaginable depth and endless duration.  

 

Christmas seems incongruous in our world today.  It can feel inappropriate and even callous to celebrate Christmas in light of the suffering in today’s world.  But I believe that that is exactly the point of Christmas, and precisely why it is so important to celebrate.

 

Jesus was born more than 2000 years ago.  Israel was under the rule of the Roman Empire, known for its authoritarian government which relied on brute strength and cruelty to maintain peace.  It was a dark time of fear and suffering.  

 

Madeline L’Engle writes these words as part of a poem celebrating the Incarnation:

            This is no time for a child to be born,

            With the earth betrayed by war & hate….

            That was no time for a child to be born

            In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;

 

And yet the Bible tells us that Jesus was born as God Incarnate “in the fullness of time.”  During a time of brutality, hardship, and suffering, the glory of God shined down from heaven, and a host of angels celebrated in giving glory to God.  God became Incarnate man and dwelt among men.  Sin and suffering did not evaporate: Jesus lived and breathed in the trenches and in the wreckage caused by the fall.  

 

And so, some 2000 years later, we mark the greatest event in human history.  And by all appearances, mankind has not made much progress in the centuries between then and now.  Suffering continues.  Many people live in hopelessness and desperation.  We are reminded, again, of our need for the Messiah.

 

The Messiah has come, and He is coming again!  This is worth celebrating!  We are called to manifest Christ, to love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly with our God. Marking the Incarnation and anticipating Christ’s return represents the sure foundation upon which we can fulfill that calling.  A wholehearted Christmas celebration is exactly what this world needs.  May the light of Christ—and our celebration of His birth—shine in the darkness….

 

 

 

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

November Thought #18

 "We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count."

                                                                                     Neal A. Maxwell

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

November Thought #17

 Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's willful you in Christ Jesus.                                                                                 

                                                                                              I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Monday, November 20, 2023

November Thought #16

 "When we learn to read the story of Jesus and see it as the story of the love of God, doing for us what we could not do for ourselves--that insight produces, again and again, a sense of astonished gratitude which is very near the heart of authentic Christian experience."

                                                                                               N.T. Wright

Sunday, November 19, 2023

November Thought #15

 I will extol You, my God, O King,

And I will bless Your name forever and ever.

Every day I will bless You,

And I will praise Your name forever and ever.

Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised,

And His greatness is unsearchable.

                                          Psalm 145:1-3

Friday, November 17, 2023

November Thought #14

 "We must find time and stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives."

                                                                                            John F. Kennedy