What is Love?
I think it is a pretty basic thing for Christians to understand how to love their neighbor. So much of Jesus’ moral teaching is centered upon love. But in a world where love is so maligned, How do we understand how to love our neighbor, and does the New Testament give us the clues as to how to do that?
Love your neighbor as yourself is not a new concept. Jesus quotes from Leviticus 19. The Summary of the Law: “You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind…and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” By this pairing we understand that first, our capacity to love is rooted in our relationship with God, and in our developing of that relationship we discover that our “love banks” are filled enough to pour over into loving others.
Recently, I saw a meme on Facebook that shows Jesus teaching (presumably this is the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew or the Sermon on the Plain in Luke). In either case, Jesus is stating to the crowd the words of the summary of the law. The people reply, “But what if they worship other gods, or are an immigrant, or are gay, or divorced, or ….” The answer in this meme is classic – “Did I stutter?” The idea that we can place parameters on who is or is not worthy of love is not a Christian one. All means all. We need to welcome all, forgive all, and love all. To not do that is a reflection of our inability to understand that we are redeemed by sheer grace, and God does not put limitations on grace.
The New Testament uses two terms for love: agapeo and phileo. The first is to love with radical self-abandon. It was agapeo that compelled Jesus to die on the cross for us. It was agapeo that that compels the church to seek the least and lost – as at one time so were we. The second term, phileo, refers to the type of brotherly love that can best be understood within the context of our fellowship gatherings. It is phileo that bonds Messiah and St. Stephen’s. It is phileo that gives us a healthy appreciation for the work of Christ in each other.
So how do we practice this love? Quite simply, it comes from the first commandment. Love God – if we truly do that, we will understand the idea that since we need love, we also have a need to love others. What is love? It is the power to change the world – it is the power to transform a life – it is the power to take what is hurt and broken and apply the life-giving salve of Christ.
We are called to be people of love. As you receive love, share it. I really think that is the fullness of the Gospel, and living into the grace that we have been given and can give back.
Checks or money orders can be sent to
Lutheran Disaster Response
P.O. Box 1809
Merrifield, VA 22116-8009
Write “Hurricane Response” on your check memo line.
Bring the Music Back to the Bells
We are launching a capital campaign to replace our analog system with a
modern digital system capable of playing 8200 hymn tunes.
Our goal is to reach $22,000.
You can designate memorial money, or mark your individual gift
“Carillon Replacement” or “Bell Tower Bells.”
Thank you for your help in bringing the music back to Messiah’s bell tower!
Kits for World Relief
WELCA is collecting supplies for school kits, health kits, and sewing kits. There is a drop box/basket in the narthex (the entryway in front of the sanctuary). The items will be collected on October 24th and distributed by Lutheran World Relief. We encourage everyone to begin gathering supplies for this worthy WELCA Outreach Project.
- Four 70-sheet college-ruled, spiral-bound notebooks, approx. 8”x 10.5”
- One 30-cm ruler
- One pencil sharpener
- One pair blunt scissors
- Five unsharpened #2 pencils with erasers, secured together with rubber band
- One box of 16 or 24 crayons
- One sturdy, drawstring cloth bag with shoulder straps, approx. 14”x 17”. No standard backpacks.
- One dark 52”x 27” bath towel
- Two bath-size bars of soap
- One adult-size packaged toothbrush
- One wide-toothed comb
- One metal nail file, or nail clippers with file attached
- 2-3 yards of cotton or cotton blend, solid or print material
- 1-2 spools of matching thread
Wrap all sewing items in the fabric and tie it securely.