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The Apostle John wrote Jesus’ words, concerning love :

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

John 15:13

This is a verse that we pull out when one has done a sacrificial act to save another, when one dies in battle, when one jumps in the line of fire to save the life of another.

This is the depth of love that we remember on this fourth Sunday of Advent. It is the John 3:16 love,

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

The God of Creation was so desperate that our lives be redeemed, he committed the greatest act of love, sacrificing his own Son, so that we might live.

When I focus on this greater love, in these ways, it would seem that most of us do not even have opportunity to show this greater love. For who among us encounters opportunity or reason to give up our lives for another?

What if,
perhaps,
greater love means something more?

What if greater love means sacrificing beyond our physical lives?

What if we are given opportunity to express greater love when :

  • we make efforts to befriend the less popular, less appealing, prickly person in our class, in our workplace … in our church pew
  • we respond with loving-kindness, rather than setting people straight, when
  • we leave the coffee shop, see a man begging just up the sidewalk and we take out coffee to him (and go on our day without … feeling the sacrifice personally).
  • we listen … rather than speak
  • we make the time to make the meal, write the note, send a gift to one who is grieving, lonely, one who simply comes to mind
  • we say yes, when we want to say no
  • we offer grace and forgiveness, when revenge might be a just response
  • we believe what we are told, rather than reading in to what we think is meant
  • we keep persevering … investing even when relationships poke and push us
  • we get out of our comfort zone to love others in ways that communicate love most to them

This greater love is the anthesis to what our world preaches today about cancelling friends, relatives and groups of people because they haven’t lived up to what we believe they should say, how they should live, what they should think.

It is up-side-down thinking. And this is exactly the kind of thinking … living that Jesus modelled. There is nothing he spoke more of in his recorded lifetime than love. It is through this virtue that he gave the first and second greatest commands (“love God, love others” Matthew 22:38-39)

This greater love, is the love defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13 :

Love is patient, 
love is kind.
It does not envy,
it does not boast,
it is not proud. 
It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking, 
it is not easily angered, 
it keeps no record of wrongs. 
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 
It always protects,
always trusts,
always hopes,
always perseveres.
Love never fails …
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. 
But the greatest of these is love.

This is the greater love of sacrificing for another.

May we be found loving other as Christ loves us.

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chocolate, and sunrises, and beaches, and writing, and lilacs, and red leaves, and piano music, and doing new things, and getting groceries (really, I do), and math (uh ha … you heard that right), and my husband, and my wonderdog, and lazy days, and snow, and …

love …

a four-letter word.

the four-letter word …
love.

It is a noun, a ‘thing’ … like pizza, or a flower, or my dog. It is a verb, an ‘action’ … like a hug, washing the dishes, sticking with ’til the end of the movie.

It is a word, made up of letters, equal doses of vowels and consonants. One vowel whispering not a peep, the other masquerading as another. No one letter taking the center stage, but all four working together to hold itself together as one. complete. word.

This word, like the word, in the beginning of the story of humanity. Like that silent ‘e’, which is never spoken … but always there … always … here.

He said “where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3) …

who is He?
God is love (1 John 4:8)

where is He?
he (the Spirit of God) lives with you and will be in you (John 14:17)

why?
as I have loved you, so you also must love one another (John 13:34)

how?
live in me (love), and I (love) will live in you (John 15:4)

how he loves us …

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If we are growing and maturing, our definition of love changes as we grow older.

From when we are children and love could be defined as who makes us feel secure by meeting our needs, to when we become teens, then young adults and love could be defined as who makes us feel unconditionally accepted, special. Then, as adults, it is all about is he/she meeting my needs.

Hum … no change there really, as it would seem to be defined by what have you done for me lately.

At the mid point of life, if love is still part of your life, if marriage is still part of your life, it starts to change (ever so   g  r  a  d  u  a  l  l  y ).

It becomes more about maintaining each other, caring for each other.

A number of weeks ago I came across this quote by Ann Voskamp:

“Love is always
inconvenient
inefficient
indestructible” 

Not a quote one would expect to hear at a wedding ceremony! Yet, for those who have persevered through love, for love, that quote is real, truth.

We have persevered, hubby and I. Not just hubby, not just I, but both of us, in little and big ways. It has been twenty-nine years (tomorrow) of persevering through love, for love.

Twenty-nine years of inconvenient love. Love that has gotten in the way of our individual interests, love that has been daily overriding individual interests, as we each bend and sway to the other, for the other. For the individual cannot survive in love without sacrificing for the other.

Twenty-nine years of inefficient love. Love that is not slick and polished, but often unproductive and amateurish. Love that doesn’t often work like a well-oiled machine, but often one that requires time adjusting, adjusting, adjusting. So many kinks to work out … and usually, they are not his, but mine.

Twenty-nine years of … how does one say, until at the very end, that it is indestructible love? Though the definition of what love is may change, it is proven only in it’s longevity, it’s indestructiblity. Grit (a determination that is strong-willed and to the end) in love is the major ingredient determining whether or not it is indestructible.

Though it is not flowery or romantic sounding, I’d take the real thing … inconvenient, inefficient, indestructible love … twenty-nine years and counting.

“Love is never wasted, for its value does not rest upon reciprocity.”
CS Lewis

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Cookie decorating with the fam and friends recently had me thinking, what is love?

Media, entertainment and even some of our philosophers of the day (aka Therapists, Life Coaches, celebrities, etc) would have us believe that it is warm and fuzzy feelings that make us ‘glow’ with good feelings and only experience agreement, affirmation and acceptance all of the time. You know, basically whatever feels good for you, for me.

I say love is so far from self.

Anyone who has pursued life-long love with other human beings (from spouses to parents, to kids, to neighbours, to friends) knows that love is far more complex, diverse and dirty than all that fluff stuff.

I think most of us pursue love to not be alone.

This is unfortunate for the parents who pour all of themselves into their children (and, lets face it, this is what most of us do) and then, when their children have grown and get their own lives (you know, what we bring them up to do) our nest is empty and we are lonelier than before.

Many of us pursue love for how it makes us feel … those warm and fuzzy feelings that are so sweet to lull us to sleep, but no one on this Earth can make us feel like that day in and day out … nor can any of us make another feel that way in the long term.

How many of us have heard people say that they love someone because they share so much in common? If commonalities are the only foundation of our love for another, it will implode when, inevitability, divergent views emerge.

Love is that which we have to work for, with and in spite of. Love trumps disagreement over politics, religion, philosophy or behaviour. Love is hard to maintain, a struggle of constant personal effort, and, sometimes, doesn’t even get reciprocated. Love is not dependent on what another does for us, it is only dependent on our own will and commitment.

“Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-8
(The Message)

 

 

 

 

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Love is in the air …

in the kindergarten classes,

in the stores,

and all over Amazon.

But what is love? Can it be created? Can it be purchased? Sold?

It’s Greek to me!

No, seriously. The Greeks, in their word wisdom, understood that love is too vast for just one meaning. So they gave it numerous sub titles.

There are four main, distinct words for love:

  • Agape
  • Eros
  • Philia
  • Storge

Storge can often be used interchangeably with affection. It is a love that is not a visual love, but is used often in familial relationships.

Philia is brotherly love, thus the origin of Philadelphia’s name, which is known as the city of brotherly love! It is a love for equals, friendship, caring.

Eros … the origin of the word erotic, is about the physical, intimate, sexual part of love.

Agape is selfless love. Love that is given, with no expectation that it will ever be reciprocated. Thomas Acquinas is said to have explained that agape love is “to will the good of another.”

Four definitions, four separate meanings, encapsulated by one, four-letter word

love

Today is known for it’s focus on love, yet love is not reserved for just one day, any more than love has only one meaning.

To celebrate love is to celebrate all that we love.

It is to celebrate those who we share affection for and with. The family members who give us life, and make life worth living.

It is the friends who we look at, eye to eye, heart to heart. The ones we laugh and cry with. The ones we call, email and text first when we are deliriously happy, or in the depths of despair.

It is the ones whose mind, soul and body seem like an appendage of our own. The ones who we reach for in the dark of night and the light of day.

It is the one, the only one, who created, defined and proved his love for us … yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Happy Valentines Day … every day.

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