Loved….. and feeling it
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” -Galatians 6:9-10
This week of Valentine’s Day, I’m thinking about love. And all the verses and songs about love… “God is love.” “Beloved, let us love one another.” “This is my commandment, that you love one another.” “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus loves me this I know! All you need is love…
What is your “Love Language”? Many years ago Gary Chapman developed a theory on how we give and receive love called the “Five Love Languages”. They are 1. Words of Affirmation; 2. Quality Time; 3. Receiving Gifts; 4. Acts of Service; and 5. Physical Touch. We all need love in order to thrive in life. When the people around us are ineffective in showing us love, we don’t feel loved, even if we truly are. Knowing how we give and receive love helps us to communicate our needs and hopefully have them met by the people in our lives who truly do love us.
This is true in groups and organizations as well. Showing love and appreciation in the church is essential to congregational vitality and health. What are the ways you feel God’s love? How have you experienced love from God’s people in the church? When we feel loved, we have more energy and desire to do more! We feel ALIVE! When our “love tank” is empty, we become bitter, resentful, and lonely.
So, how do we as a congregation show God’s love for one another? The first step is to notice people. Have you ever had a dog who was so excited when you arrived back home, she couldn’t contain her enthusiasm? Not that we need to act like crazy dogs, but think with me for a moment about the difference between that dog and a cat who doesn’t notice or care whether you are around at all, except when they want something from you, like food, or to be petted. If we don’t notice the people around us, except when we want something from them, that’s not really loving them. It’s using them. Noticing when they are NOT present is important, too. If you have noticed a member of the church hasn’t been around in a while, please reach out to that person. Knowing that you are missed, is life-giving love.
The second way we can show God’s love to one another is forgiving each other. Whether the conflict arose because of something really important, or something rather trivial, when we let resentments and disagreements fester, it poisons the entire community. Speaking the truth in love and refraining from gossip or complaining about a person or situation but not taking the problem to the person involved deteriorates relationships.
A third way to show God’s love is to be welcoming to strangers. When people have the courage to come through our doors and there isn’t room at the table for them, it’s hard to want to stick around. It’s good to visit with the people we already know and love – we want to notice them! But it’s also crucial to keep one eye open for the lost, the lonely, the new person, in order to bring them into the circle of love and friendship here at our church. May you feel loved and extend God’s love to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
God of perfect love, we are cleansed and claimed by the love of Jesus Christ, our Savior. We are redeemed and restored by the self-emptying, sacrificial love poured out. And we are called to love you and all whom you call beloved children. Open our hearts to the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Help us to love as Christ loves: reconciling conflict, supporting all people in tragedy and triumph, and daily surrendering our will for the sake of walking with others. We know that in our own accord, we will be imperfect at this. We will fall short. We will disappoint others and miss opportunities. Yet, Lord, help us to show up, to share Christ, and to be a beacon of hope, justice, love and joy to all whom you call us to care for in our lives. For this we pray in the name of the one whose perfect love casts out all fear, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Warmly in Christ,
Rev. Hanna P. Shearer
Warmly in Christ,
Rev. Hanna Peterson Shearer