The Greatest of these is Love - Reflections - 2-15-17

 Texts for Sunday February 19

 7th Sunday after Epiphany

 Leviticus 19: 1-2, 9-18
 Psalm 119:33-40
 1 Corinthians 3:10-11,16-23
 Matthew 5:38-48

I’ve been thinking a lot about love this week.
Pastor Sarah’s sermon addressed it a bit last Sunday; and then Valentine’s day came along. Sometimes I think our culture tends to weaken love, sweeten it a bit too much. 

But it still has moments of strength like Love is Greater than Hate as a protest against violence. 

Then, here in church, our God is abounding the steadfast love and so loved the world that he gave his only Son. Not weak or sweet.

Last night in confirmation class, we were discussing “daily bread” from the Lord’s Prayer. Luther has a whole big list of what is comprised in daily bread, including neighbors. Totally off the cuff, I mentioned a part of this week’s text from Leviticus – You shall love your neighbor as yourself – each of the confirmation kids were horrified and started off on why they didn’t like the people living near them and there was NO WAY they were going to love them. Period. I tried to expand their vision of “neighbor”, but there was still “no way”. Hmmm. 

In for a penny, in for a pound, I said, "Well let’s look at what we find in the Gospel reading for Sunday: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you". 

They "don’t have any enemies", but there are all the people they don’t like as well as those who tease them, or ignore them, or “do dumb things” in class. Loving? Forget about it! Praying? Why would I do that?

Truthfully, most of us are right there with the junior high kids most of the time, right? The only chance we have at loving neighbors or enemies is with God’s help – see last week’s “Toast” reflection.

In Paul’s letter to bickering Corinthians - love is really a precious commodity, a “greater gift”. When you read the whole of chapter thirteen of 1 Corinthians – and a paragraph before and a sentence after it – it sounds as if love combines with all our other unique gifts, enhancing the impact of any gift.

The Old Lutheran store created that mathematically clever campaign last summer: Love > HateLove is greater than Hate. Lately they came out with a new campaign that Love is greater than a bunch things like hate, anger, defensiveness, fear. And they declared that Valentine’s Day was Love is Greater day. 

I wore my button. And, you know what? My Valentine’s day was actually richer because of it. I saw the people on the street, and the happenings of my life through that Love is Greater lens. 

Now, I am trying to use that as my breath prayer. Love is Greater than the chaos, confusion, uncertainty, and fear that seems to be filling our news and our days. 

It goes like this:
 (breathe in) Love is Greater, 
(breathe out) than all that other stuff.

Repeat as needed.

Your comments are always welcome.

How to Find Us

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245