That word “Love”
Every time I’m asked to a do a wedding, I’m thrilled. I recently heard a friend say that weddings are the closest thing a pastor does that resembles magic. He or she says something like “I now pronounce you man and wife,” and in the sphere where Christians locate meaning, those words matter. The couple really is married and a spiritual reality is present after those words that was not before. It’s a great privilege.
Since I began pastoring seven years ago weddings are something I’ve learned to love again. Given the awesome responsibility of shepherding that moment in people’s lives has caused me to think more deeply about what’s happening and what I’m saying. I want to give care to that moment. Part of that process of care is inviting the couple to think through what the ceremony looks like. At some point we talk about the text and I ask them to help me pick one. Usually the couple will defer and I’ll do my best to listen the voice of the Spirit and think about the couples personalities and needs to determine what to use. Whenever I ask though, I hold my breath hoping they won’t pick 1 Corinthians 13.
It’s probably not fair, in fact I know it isn’t because it’s a form of judgment, but for years when I would go to weddings and hear 1 Corinthians 13 read, I would think to myself “you have no idea what those words really mean.” The truth is neither did I. Stanley Hauerwas has suggested that when a couple confesses their vows theres no way they can really know what they are saying in that moment. We can hear and see and feel what a covenantal relationship looks like and might cost us, but we only know those things in their essence when we experience them. For this reasons, when I do premarital counseling I’ll ask a couple to imagine a worst case scenario. Something like … she gets in a car accident and becomes quadriplegic for the rest of her life. Or he falls into a deep depression at 35 and never really comes back from it. And then I ask them, “do you really want to be committed to that?”
This week friend asked me to watch a movie called The End of All Wars. It came out in 2001. I didn’t remember hearing about it and it stars Kiefer Sutherland. Two strikes against it, but my friend’s enthusiasm was enough to convince me to give it a try. It was so good at points that I forgot to breathe. The story is about a group of Scottish soldiers who end up in a prisoner of war camp in Thailand run by the Japanese. One of the soldiers persists in bitterness and resentment. He grows to hate his Japanese captors and comes up with a plan to take the camp and kill them. His plan fails and he’s sentenced to death. This is what happens. It’s more powerful if you know the back story, but as I was watching the guy get crucified one of the thoughts I had was, “that’s the sort of love that makes marriage work.”
I guess the issue here is what I detect in the flippancy of our use of the word love, especially on holidays like this one. To my surprise that’s not unique to America in 2014. I was recently rereading some NT Wright and came across this.
“It isn’t simply a matter, as some people used to think, of getting back to the “true” meaning of the Greek word agapē. That word, actually, had almost as much of a checkered career in the centuries before and after Paul as our word “love” (and, for that matter, “charity”) has had in the last three hundred years … The specific meaning of agapē which we find in the New Testament isn’t the result of the early Christians discovering a word which already said exactly what they wanted to say and latching on to it. Rather, they seem to have settled quickly on this word as the best available one, and they then gave it fresh privilege of carrying a new depth of meaning in which some aspects of its previous career were highlighted and others were set aside. The early Christians, in fact, did with the word agapē pretty much what they did with the ancient notion of virtue. They picked it up, soaked it in the message and achievement of Jesus, and gave it new life, a new sort of life."
On this Valentines Day I pray that the love you give to relationships will be soaked in the message and achievement of Jesus.
Meet The Leadership Team
Chair: Jana Parker email@example.com
Kristin Dodson firstname.lastname@example.org
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David Wilhite firstname.lastname@example.org
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Meet Austin Tiffany
Vocation (could be your job or something you love doing that you believe you were made for): I am a senior at Baylor studying religion and sociology. I'm especially interested in how and why different faith groups interact with each other, and I've been accepted to Cambridge to study that kind of thing.
Favorite Movie: Dark Knight Trilogy
Best Restaurant in Waco: El Crucero
Bible verse/chapter/book that is meaningful for you: Genesis 32:22-32 (where Jacob wrestles with an angel)
Best Television Show: Parks and Rec
Favorite Holiday: Thanksgiving (because that's when I get grandmother's pumpkin pie)
Something we might not know about you: I am obsessed with the Olympics to an unhealthy extent (I love the winter and summer games equally)
Hobby: Reading, day hikes, road trips/traveling in general
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This May we will be completing the school in Batey 50, and I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to the team. Please be praying for us as we prepare to go, and as we complete the school in Batey 50. Our team is: Toph Whisnant, Melissa Rowland Whisnant, Caitlin Closeen, Kareem Shane, Jihye Lee, Kim Shine, Byron Roldan, Kristi Goff, Tucker Doiron, Rick Lhotan, Justin Partridge, Laura Tobey, Leigh Curl, Alyssa Lorfing, and Rachel Vaughn. If you would like to support one of our team members, please consider buying a shirt through the link below:
First of all I would like to thank The Digital Age and Wes Bulter for leading us these past two weeks. We are so fortunate to be a part of a community that has such talented artist who are willing to lead us. Be sure and find each of them on Facebook and let them know how much you appreciate them.
Still looking for extra vacuum cleaners if you have a spare. email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Work Is Worship
Coffee: Marshall Hinders & Tyler Clark
Coffee Clean Up: Jess Hinshaw & Leigh Curl
Greeters: Sarah Picken & Claire Cole
- Sunday Sermon Text: John 7:37-39
- John Sunday School: John 7:37-39
- Christians in the Headlines: Religious Violence and Conflict
- Psalms of Ascent Sunday School: 123 & 124
- Love, Love Feast this Sunday Night, February 16th at 6:00 PM
- Marriage Ministries Presents: Round Table Discussions ... February 23rd 6:30 PM. Child care provided.
- Please be in prayer for my friend Lindsey Trozzo who will be preaching Sunday.
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