February 2023: L is For the Ways We Look at Love

Love is a many-splendored thing,
Love lifts us up where we belong.
All you need is love!
( ~ “Elephant Love Medley” from the film Moulin Rouge) 

The Valentine crafts have just started coming home from preschool in our household, so we know that we’ll soon be swimming in hearts of all kinds. And this Sunday we’ll kick off a new worship theme around love and relationships we’re calling “Love is a Verb.”

Indeed, chilly February seemed a fitting time to take a warm look at the many-splendored kinds of love together in the context of spiritual community. I’m not talking about the cloying, doily-covered love, but a capital-L-Love rooted in something greater than ourselves, that resilient Love that is the backbone and lifeblood of so many faith traditions.

This Love is a universal, animating force as well as the central ethical guideline of the Judeo-Christian tradition: love God with all you’ve got, and don’t forget your neighbor (or yourself). This all-encompassing, ethical call to love calls upon our whole hearts but also our minds, souls, and strength. Love is so much more than a feeling. The emotion needs to be in motion.

We can see love alive and moving in the First Parish community in so many ways, small and large: from hands reaching out in tenderness, to generous spaces held for meditation and movie nights, to devoted justice work for planet and people. As Cornel West famously put it: “Justice is what love looks like in public.”

As I reflect this week on the ways our world is parched for love and cries out for justice, I hear echoes of Tyre Nichols crying out for his mother in his final words as he was violently beaten to death in Memphis, much as George Floyd called for his mother before him. That core, instinctual scream for love in the face of brutality, is wrenching and shakes us awake yet again.

Beloved, let us love one another. May we listen together for the cries and choruses and celebrations of love in our midst, in small ways close by, and writ large in our beautiful and broken world.

With you in the struggles and the joys,
Kit and Nate

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