By Rev. Dr. Brian Gigee
Gather with a bunch of friends and watch what happens when one of those friends starts singing the old Beatles tune, “All You Need Is Love.” In just a few blinks of the eye everyone joins in and begins to smile and sing… “Love, love, love… “ and then one or two start acting like a trumpet blurting out laryngeal tones … and as the chorus rolls around the whole party becomes both the soloist and the brass section combined… “dut-dut-dut-dut-ta”… all you need is love…”. Try it. It’s a party changer!
But, isn’t L-O-V-E that thing we all need? Faith matters and what we believe about love impacts everything we do and everyone we know… including God… as the Bible tells… “we love others because God first loved us.” (1 John 4:19). God. First. Loved. Us. It’s a life changer!
The scriptures have all kinds of ways to talk about love and our experience with it… how it is received and given away… Love. Love. Love. In fact, there are over 750 verses in the Bible about love and is described seven different ways. Google “7 loves in the Bible” and see what you get. No wonder why people in our culture can be so confused and confounded about love and its meaning and purpose for all of us… as in America we have just one word… LOVE… but other languages use different words to define the kinds of love we share.
How do we engage in the practice of love? It’s a process as love grows in us and changes us…
When parents of a newborn choose love, they feed the baby, change diapers, bathe and clothe the child with no expectation of that love being returned until later. It seems endless at first. And it goes all the way back to the first man and the first woman. It has to; and now we’re stuck.
Then later comes. And love gets tested. In many ways. Understood and not.
When I was three years old my great-grandfather Henry Wilson once chided me with his long Methodist finger in my face… “don’t you eat those berries, boy,” he said, as I stood gazing at the clusters of red fruit on the Hawthorne bushes at old Aunt Ella’s house. I thought he was kind of mean then… yet, now, it’s one of my first encounters with “tough love” learning later in life… those berries will make a person very sick if eaten. Grandpa Hank wasn’t mean… he was just protecting me from myself!
Some people think “love stinks” or “love hurts” and sometimes it feels that way. But, remember, feelings are just that… feelings… and how we respond to those feeling makes all the difference. So, what gets experienced when that kind of love shows up? Love is powerful! The dynamite kind… knock your socks off powerful and can leave deep holes in our hearts.
But love heals. Love salves the wounds we encounter. Love shows us a better way. We all have faith in something. We all have a hope for what is to come and in time the love we get … gets even better as we give it away… as St. Paul wrote these great words to his Corinthian friends… “Faith. Hope and Love. They stick around and of these three … the greatest one is LOVE.” (1 Corinthians 13).
We can all learn to be better at loving. We can all be better at welcoming love when it comes our way… in all the ways that it can. St. Valentine’s Day seems to stir that up in us. So, remember… God loves you… each day… with an eternal love… a love to hold on to…and one even better when given away. Try it. Then listen for the trumpets! It’s a world changer.
Brian Gigee is a long-time resident of Pearland and the lead pastor at New Life Lutheran Church at 3521 E. Orange St. in Olde Pearland. You can follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Friend2theRabbi. Comments and questions can be sent to [email protected].