The language of holy love
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” Matthew 5:43-44 (NRSV). “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34 (ESV)
Hate. Hate is an emotion we speak of so flippantly… “I hate brussel sprouts”; “I hate waiting in line”; “I hate the music they play today”; “I hate hot days”; “I hate …” We say we “hate” for mere inconveniences or dislikes. Hate rolls off the tongue with a matter of ease and unconcern. The Web site <dictionary.com> defines hate as: “to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward.” Hate is an emotion of intensity and extremeness, an emotion that drives a person to act irrationally.
As I write this article the 12th anniversary of 911 is but a week away. Violent attacks against innocent people because of … hate. Violent attacks against innocent people because hatred so intense, so extreme, so irrational festered and evil erupted. A new enemy identified, retaliation the answer, strength and power jockey for position, mistrust and fear mushroom, hatred of “them” escalates, and so we live in a new norm. The norms of fear, hate, and power.
Yet, this new norm does not have to be the way we live. We have a crucified Savior. A Savior who was crucified because he proclaimed that God’s grace and mercy are available to all people — even to those we deem as incredibly unworthy. We have a Savior who was crucified because he revealed that we humans envy control and dominance. We have a Savior who was crucified because of our hate and fear. We have a Savior who was crucified, but death was and is not the final step. We have a resurrected Savior because LOVE is more intense; love is more extreme than hate. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ loves God’s people beyond our human understanding. It is through Christ’s unfathomable love that we pray for better understanding between peoples. Founded in Christ’s love we pray for increased dialogues between peoples of differing faiths. Grounded in Christ’s love we pray for forgiveness, healing, and peace. Our living God is with us — here and now — Christ is shaping and molding us, teaching us to speak a new language, the language of holy love.
Though we will never forget. Though we will remember the pain and devastating loss, Jesus Christ is guiding us into a different norm — the norm of love. Christ’s love that extends even to our enemies.
You are always invited and welcome to worship with us at Immanuel Lutheran Church (1226 E. Washington St. in Washington). Sunday services are at 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. and education for children and adults at 9:15 a.m. All people are welcome and invited as we gather all generations around the Word of Christ to experience God’s norm of love and grace.