Psalms 90; 149, Isaiah 8:1-15, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-18, Luke 22:31-38
As the second week of advent draws to a close, let’s reflect on its traditional theme of love. We throw the word “love” around a lot, and muddy its meaning in the process. A single word describes a range of feelings, actions and attitudes. “I love pizza.” “I love God.” “I love Blazing Saddles.” “I love making love.” More sophisticated users of language may choose different words to better express nuance, but for us common folk, love is love is love.
If you reflect on different types of love – romantic, divine, fraternal, charitable – what questions does it raise for you? Over time, how have your own experiences and studies changed your working definition of love? Do you experience love primarily as a feeling, an attitude, an action, some combination of the three, or something else entirely?
If we actively engage the world, our understanding of love evolves endlessly. Take marriage, for example. The intensity of feeling of a new love can’t sustain twenty, forty, or sixty years of marriage; as time passes, the landscape of the relationship changes. Self-help books that teach us our relationship will flounder unless we hold onto or rekindle that early passion have it all wrong. Stubborn insistence that love must look and feel the same five, ten, or thirty years down the road is deadly to a marriage. Movies, television, and books tell us a relationship that loses its youthful character is somehow lacking, but the opposite is often true: just as mature people gain depth, gravity, and patience … so do mature relationships.
Our love for God and people must be allowed to follow a similar path if it is to mature. Sometimes we need to let go of what we think love is before we can reach that next level of depth. That can be scary, or feel like a loss, especially if the letting go is forced on us. At the close of this second week of Advent, can we commit to bravely exploring a deeper understanding of love over the coming year? We might find God in the most surprising places!
Comfort: Love matures as you do.
Challenge: Try using words other than “love” – such as like, adore, admire, or enjoy – in your daily conversations.
Prayer: God of love, teach me to love. Amen.
Discussion: How has your understanding of love – romantic or otherwise – changed over time?
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