Wednesday, July 23, 2008
There is something tender and mysterious about spending time with my mother in her later years. I am learning a lot about love from her, without her saying a thing. There were many days in my life that I desperately desired for her to praise me, to say something that would encourage me, to love me more than others for a moment – one brief moment. She was never miserly with her praise, nor was she withholding of her love. What I am learning about love is about the recipient, the one who is the object of that love. If the one who is loved is unwilling or unable to receive love or hear its proclamation that they are cherished, it does not diminish the love in the least. Love actually is un-diminishable, irreducible and a solid constant in a very temporal world. The signal and the message are strong even when there is no one tuned in, listening or even interested. We can fail to see, hear or receive – but when one is loved, there is no denying that love. When all else fails, sight, body, mind – love continues.
God’s love for us, like a parent’s love is constant but unlike human parents is never subject to human distractions and failings. The other kids, the stress of the world, the challenges of money, employment and status never intercept or redirect God’s love. These are sound and fury with no significance to the Creator. “God is love and those that worship God must worship in spirit and in truth.” What I am learning this week is a lesson for all of us in the church. We bishops think we are the source of ideas and generators of love for the people we serve, but in fact, we are the recipients of a perfect love that ‘casts out fear’. When our rational capabilities fail, God’s love is there. When we exclude others and delude ourselves, God’s love is there. When we tune out for all the right reasons, still God’s love is there, nudging at the edges of our consciousness, encouraging us to receive love. For it is in receiving love from God that we can truly love. We all need to remember the source, which is certainly not us. We are the object of God’s love but surely not the terminus. It doesn’t end with any single one of us, nor do we have any ability to control which persons or groups the Creator has chosen to love. And the last time I looked, “God so loved the world”, the whole world, all of creation, every being in creation, and every simple and complex human that has walked this earth.
May we have courage today to accept was has been given to us and the joy to share it with others. Not just with those we chose, but with those who God has put us in relationship with – strangers, bus passengers, shop workers, bosses, employees and…other bishops. May we be blessed in our receiving and may we learn about God’s love in the giving.
We promise to follow you and yet we stray. You are constant and we vacillate, flop about and try to be in charge over others. You love us all. Help us this day as we take each breath to give thanks for your love, and for those you love, even those we disagree with and who we struggle to acknowledge. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.
We rise with hope and lie down exhausted from the struggles of the day. Help us to shed the hurts, forgive the unforgivable, turn away from anger and face again your radiant love. Shine upon us like stars in the night. Flow through us like gentle deep streams. Give us your peace and rest, so that we might rise tomorrow to love the world in your name, Amen.