Advent Week 4: Love

Okay, the timing of these blog posts doesn’t neatly align with the Sundays of Advent, so you’re reading this a few days after Christmas. Christmas has come and gone, and in this last week, we reflect on the theme of Love.

Those of us lucky to experience deep love in our lives also know that it comes with equal parts pain and loss. And yet, our inner knowing pushes us to love anyway. Unitarian minister, Forrest Church, writes:

“Whenever we give our hearts in love, the burden of our vulnerability grows. We risk being rebuffed or embarrassed or inadequate. Beyond these things, we risk the enormous pain of loss. When those we love die, a part of us dies with them. When those we love are sick, in body or spirit, we too feel the pain. All of this is worth it. Especially the pain. If we insulate our hearts from suffering, we shall only subdue the very thing that makes life worth living”

I write this to acknowledge that love is not some trite, easy thing. In our Westside Community, this truth is something we are grappling with. It is alive in our Right Relations work (and our families and social groups too). When we love others in community, we open ourselves to risk, to the possibility that others will let us down, to the possibility that we will let others down. And yet we keep showing up in love.

I am grateful for each of you, each time you show up in love, despite the risk.

One more quote. A feminist scholar called bell hooks,  who has written extensively about love, gets her definition of what love is from M Scott Peck:

To them, love is “the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.”

Love is of the essence of what we do in this faith community, and on each of our spiritual journeys. When we care for our dear ones in imperfect, human, sometimes sweet, sometimes less sweet ways, love is there.

Christmas is telling us that the culmination of hope, peace, and joy is love. We remember that the seed of each of these dwells within us, and can be cultivated and drawn out. As the Chorale reminded us in their closing song this Christmas Eve, the work of Christmas begins now. May we be stirred up to acts of love and justice in the new year.

Song: “The Work of Christmas” by Dan Forrest (based on words of Howard Thurman), performed by the BYU-Idaho Department of Music

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