February is the month when our culture turns to thoughts of love – in its most basic and least interesting form: the love that is defined by overpriced chocolates, and flowers, and cards, and all the rest… Children are indoctrinated into this cultural observance of expressing love through consumer habits in the earliest years in school. But it doesn’t take much maturity to begin to learn that love is really more than all of that. It’s richer and deeper than the sentiments that the now-absent Necco Conversation Hearts could ever convey. They were certainly sweet and delicious, but still lacking.
We, in the church, know that love is even deeper and richer than that. Love is the greatest gift we have from God and our greatest tribute to God, in return. As Christians, there is no better way to express our faith than to show signs of God’s love to the people God has put in front of us.
But of course, none of this is news to any of us. We hear about love all year – in the stories we read from the Bible, in our reflections of how we’re called to live our lives, in our efforts at exercising the mission of the church through our service to others and through spreading the good news of God’s love…
The incredible thing about the month of February is not that it’s about love – for us, every month is about love. But the amazing thing happens, in that the world around us – the people who know nothing about the church other than that they think they want nothing to do with us – this month, even they share our primary concern: love.
So it’s a good time to talk about love. What does love mean for you? How is the church, this institution that too often shoots itself in the foot – how are we living lives of love? How is it that what we aim for each day and every month is right in line with what other people are focused on right now? And how can we communicate that better?
There’s nothing wrong with the candy and the cards and all the rest. It’s fun and it even brings to mind a word that often overused, but just as often a concept that’s misunderstood. But while “love” is front and center – take this opportunity to make it about more than the superficial stuff. The truth is, it’s about more than that for almost everyone, but almost no one talks about it. We can help take the lead.