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  • Writer's pictureTom Emanuel

LOVE IS LOVE... This Week at UCCW

“Love costs all we are and will ever be. Yet it is only love which sets us free.” --Maya Angelou

If you come to our LOVE IS LOVE Valentine’s service tomorrow night (Thursday 2/14) at 6pm, you’ll hear those very words of Dr. Angelou’s. You’ll also get to sing along to the Beatles, listen to young people from our community share their poetry, and maybe even write some Valentines of your own!

Valentine’s Day has become a celebration of romantic love in our culture… or I’m inclined to say a commodification, what with all those roses and chocolates and expensive dinners. We tend to put all of our relationship eggs in that romantic basket, expecting our partner to fill all of our needs. But we know that love is a many-splendored thing!

There’s the love we have for our partners, if we happen to be in a relationship. But there’s also love between siblings, or the love between parents and children. There’s the love we feel for Nature, or for our animal companions. There’s gay love, straight love, and everywhere-in-between love. Justice is an expression of love – indeed, to quote the theologian Cornel West, “Justice is what love looks like in public.” And then there’s the biggest, most scandalous love of all: God’s bottomless, never-ending love for each and every one of us.

Caught up in the cavalcade of chocolates and heart-shaped cards, we can forget that love shows up in many different guises. We can forget too that it’s easy to say “I love you” but sometimes harder to put it into practice. By way of example, according to legend, St. Valentine was put to death for the crime of… celebrating weddings! Christianity was still widely persecuted under Roman rule, so getting married in the Church was considered a rebellion against the authority of the Empire.

When we live our love out loud, it can make others uncomfortable – especially if our love doesn’t “follow the rules,” as was the case for Christian marriages in Roman times and is still the case for same-gender relationships today. We humans, we don’t like being confronted with the possibility that God might love “those people over there”—you know, the ones who don’t act or pray or love the way we do—every bit as much as She loves us. (Jesus was exceptionally good at provoking this kind of holy discomfort.)

Well, I’m here to tell you that no matter who you are, and no matter whom you love, God loves you. Yes, you. Just the way you are. As a matter of fact, God is just **gaga** over you.

And don’t let anybody lie to you otherwise.

I hope you’ll come on out for our service tomorrow, as we open ourselves to God’s astonishing love for us and affirm the many human loves that bring joy and fulfillment to our lives. May you live this week in the knowledge, the down-deep-in-your-bones knowledge, that God adores you and desires your freedom and flourishing.

Blessin’s, --Tom

QUESTIONS FOR THE WEEK: What is your “love language”? Whom do you find it hard to love? How would your life change if you could live, day-to-day, minute-to-minute, in the awareness of God’s all-encompassing love?

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