Pastor’s ponderings

On Monday, many around the country, and perhaps the world, will celebrate Valentine’s Day, that special day of conveying love. Love, it seems, has even more meaning for the residents here in the Commonwealth.  You need only look to our slogan to see that love is at the center of who we are.  After all, “Virginia is for Lovers,” right?

            Yet, love can have all sorts of meanings for us.  Sure, we love our family members, but we also say that we love a certain meal or our homes or the new car we just purchased.  We even mark the heart-shaped “love” icon in response to messages that we read on social media.  So, what exactly does it mean?  Who or what do we truly love?

            When Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, he challenged humanity’s thoughts on love.  Within the context of that infamous teaching, Jesus declared, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?” (Matthew 5:44, 46a, NRSV).  Is this who we show our love towards – our enemies?  Those who persecute us?  Jesus said there is no reward in only showing love toward those who we know love us, but our call as disciples is to love all, most especially those who we find it difficult to love.

            Perhaps this Valentine’s Day we can show our love for others in ways that we often do not.  Perhaps this Valentine’s Day is the day to reach out to the one who we have been harboring ill will, those who ordinarily wouldn’t be on our distribution list of Valentine’s cards.  What difference would a gesture such as that make in their life, and in your own?  Loving God by loving neighbor.  Forgiving others as God has forgiven you.  Showing mercy and grace in all circumstances.

            I know it sounds difficult, even perhaps impossible.  Yet, this is our call.  This is the life that a Christian is commissioned to lead, for this is what God has done for us.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16, NRSV).

                                    Always pondering the possibilities in Christian love,

                                                            Pastor Steve

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.

Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,

if you have love for one another.”

(John 13:34-35, NRSV)

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