“No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another,
God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
(1 John 4:12, NIV)
I have sometimes wondered if the Hallmark holiday of Valentine’s Day was strategically placed at the almost halfway point of winter as it comes right at a point when we might begin losing a little patience due to snow, slush and the cold. For on that February 14th, we add a little warmth to our day with cards of affection and boxes of chocolates (which experience tells me usually works). But while Hallmark and Hershey may have us believe that this day is all about the actual cards and candy, I think most would agree that it’s really about authentic expressions of love. Those expressions of love are really saying, “you are important to me” … “I really care about you” … “I want for your needs to be met, and if I can be a part of that then all the better” … “I genuinely want you to be within my world and in my life”. Perhaps Valentine’s Day should be renamed, Express Your Love Day (admittedly, Valentine’s Day sounds more poetic).
Actually, when we think about it this way, it’s not much of a stretch to see parallels with our relationship with God and God’s will for our relationships with one another. We, as followers of Jesus Christ take seriously our understanding that “God is Love” (1 John 4:8) and know its importance in our lives. The author Stephen Doughty writes, “If love flows among us, even briefly, God is there—in traffic jams, in places of staggering beauty, in the realms of darkest communal pain. If we find ourselves bound together even momentarily, God is present. We taste with our spirits the community God longs to build.”
It is for this reason that I expect God would have us celebrate Express Your Love Day, not just on one day but every day of the year, and would want it to be among the most important things we do in our lives and as Christ’s Church. The only question for us is how might we be that celebration? Or, how might we authentically express God’s love through our actions and words? Perhaps these questions can even inform us as to how we might be a reflection of Christ’s presence right here in our local community as a church congregation. In other words, what might each of us individually be able to do to reflect the love of God in Christ to anyone who may enter our church building?
Perhaps it could be as simple as making a point of saying “hello” to at least one person you have never really talked with before. Or maybe finding someone sitting by themselves and asking to sit with them. Or perhaps volunteering to stand at an entrance door one Sunday a month and warmly shake the hand of every person who comes through that door that morning. I expect your head is swimming with many others ideas, for with all the love we have to share we have countless opportunities to be Expressions of Love in this place.
And so, may every day be Valentine’s Day … make that Express Your Love of God Day. And as you express such love, may you as well be the recipient of such expressions. For in doing so, we express God’s love to one another, and “God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
Peace and blessings to you, your families and friends … Pastor Bob