Love Always!

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

There is no greater eternal truth than, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Or simply stated, love wins! Darkness, hate, evil all try to prevail in each of us, yet in the end, the light shines in the darkness and does not overcome us. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu proclaimed, “Goodness is stronger than evil – Love is stronger than hate – Light is stronger than darkness – Life is stronger than death.”

This is why the quintessential question is always, “What does love look like…in this situation, in this challenge, in this relationship. Are we entering in from a place of light or darkness, from love or hate? This question is particularly important when we are in a posture of believing we are doing the ‘right thing’ or the ‘just thing’. As Wendell Berry reminds us, “When the side of love begins to hate the side of hate then the lovers are defeated, for they have defeated themselves.” We cannot hate those whom we experience as haters. If we do, we in fact have succumbed to hate rather than embracing love. As Dr. King so eloquently spoke, “Darkness cannot cast out darkness; only light can do that. And hatred cannot cast out hatred; only love can do that.”

Or in theologian Dorthy Day’s words, “Love and ever more love is the only solution to every problem that comes up. If we love each other enough, we will bear with each other’s faults and burdens. If we love enough, we are going to light that fire in the hearts of others. And it is love that will burn out the sins and hatreds that sadden us. It is love that will make us want to do great things for each other. No sacrifice and no suffering will then seem too much.”

From birth in a stable to death on a cross Jesus never once returned hate with hate. Rather, Jesus always, always, always demonstrated what love looks like. Those who in the world that others saw as less than, not worthy, ‘sinners’ were all folks Jesus brought only love to. Never condemnation, never self righteousness, rather always love manifested in healing, forgiveness, wholeness. “Darkness cannot cast out darkness; only light can do that. And hatred cannot cast out hatred; only love can do that.”

What does love look like? Civil rights legend John Lewis offers this, “Release the need to hate, to harbor division, and the enticement of revenge. Release all bitterness. Hold only love, only peace in your heart, knowing that the battle of good to overcome evil is already won.” Does my life manifest a response of hate for hate, division for division, revenge for wrongs that I believe have been done to me or others I care about? Or do I choose to let the light shine through me through the darkness demonstrating that love is stronger than hate. As Presiding Bishop Michael Curry consistently reminds us, “Love always, because love is the way.” The way of Jesus, the One who is born this day.

God, lover of life, lover of these lives,

God, lover of our souls, lover of our bodies, lover of all that exists . . .

In fact, it is your love that keeps it all alive . . .

May we live in this love.

May we never doubt this love.

May we know that we are love,

That we were created for love,

That we are a reflection of you,

That you love yourself in us and therefore we are perfectly lovable.

May we never doubt this deep and abiding and perfect goodness.

We are because you are. – Richard Rohr

Merry Christmas!

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