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Love heals, not hurts: Valentine’s Day 2019

For Valentine’s Day 2019, the World Council of Churches invited #ThursdaysinBlack reflections on a well-known scripture on Love, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

For Valentine’s Day 2019, the World Council of Churches invited #ThursdaysinBlack reflections on a well-known scripture on Love:

“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrong doing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

A selection of reflections have been shared through the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace blog:

A harmful text on Love? by Lyn van Rooyen

Love heals, it never hurts by Tamika Nyirenda

Love - the very essence of God in our midst by Robina Winbush

Love is the action of unity by Suzanne Sangi

Love cannot come with harm and destruction by Jennifer P. Martin

But all reflections - blogs, poems, drawings and more - have been rich, thoughtful and inspiring:

Daily journey
By Lani Anaya, Mexico

I wake up in the morning and pray for protection,
Tears, and silent mournings remain among us.
I turn on the TV, my fears find justification:
My sisters are death, with any fair explanation.

Is this patience? Is this kindness?
How can we follow the supreme law of love?

It’s time to take the subway, and I remember the news
many women disappear or face sexual abuse.
Speaking up matters, but is not enough
Violence has been normalized, moreover, diffused.

Are doing right? Are we acting enough?
How can we follow the supreme law of love?

If we preach about a love that is kind and respectful,
it might be the time to transform misconceptions
Arrogance or rudeness are not part of the equation
Our society needs to take an alternative direction.

Is this love? Is this love?
How can we follow the supreme law of love?

See this map elaborated by a Mexican researcher. She has registered the feminicides that have happened over the last 3 years.

 

“Love heals, not hurts”
by Rev Annabell Lala-Ramkellowan, Presbyterian Church in Trinidad and Tobago.

In the Greek language several words were used to mean love. The word “philos” was used to speak about friendship love and mutual affection. The word “eros” was used to describe romantic love with all of its passion and desire. The word “Agape” represent unconditional love, choosing to love another person regardless of your feelings. When Paul describes the character of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, he is talking about “agape” love.

Paul begins 1Corinthians 13: 4-7 with two verbs to positively describe what love is. “Love is patient, love is kind.” Love acts patiently; love acts kindly.  It is interesting that the very first word Paul chooses to describe love is patience? The word here means “to bear patiently with other people’s faults and offenses, to be longsuffering.” This is the first characteristic of agape love because it is totally unconditional. It is choosing to love another not because of who they are, but in spite of who they are, in spite of what they do to you. It is a love which sees the potential in people and continues to desire the best for others. It is a love like Jesus’.

Secondly, love is kind. It is not difficult to be kind. It doesn’t take much effort, but it does take intention. And that is what Paul is talking about here caring enough for others circumstance to be kind. Sometimes just a word is enough. Proverbs 12:25 says, “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” Love practices acts of kindness to others.

Our world can be a cruel and unkind place. People say and do hurtful things. Love that is patient and kind is powerful medicine for our hurting world, it heals not hurts.

 


A short reflection for Valentine's Day
by Ms. Kim, So Jung, Ph.D. candidate, University of Chicago, Divinity School

I do not know much about Saint Valentine, but this Saint is somehow associated with the literature of “courtly love” in the medieval age. It is beyond the scope of this reflection to discuss how the sublime Christian Love of the Saint; with the capital L, became associated with a literary trend of medieval romance; with the lowercase l. However, such an association of the sublime Love with some trendy love is not at all a phenomenon confined to the medieval age. Even nowadays, numerous Christians would agree that the sublime Love we Christians talk about goes way beyond the romanticized, earthly, commercialized love.

As an example, I take up the Christian Love Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 13. The Love Paul describes here is not at all romantic, cheap, nor ideal. The Love Paul describes here is the realistic practice of the sublime Christian agape. Paul writes; any attachment or possessiveness, whether to knowledge (“prophecies”) or language (“tongues”) goes in vain if you do not practice the non-attached, non-possessive Love. However, such non-attached Love is not of disinterest, detachment, nor distance. This non-attached Love is filled with passion, compassion, empathy, and sympathy in a level that “it bears all things, believes all things, hope all things, endures all things.” In doing so, this non-attached Love is exposed to extreme vulnerability and self-emptying kenosis. In other words, one gets to practice such Love, not out of one’s will, but out of the divine will of which one cannot even know, nor speak.

Here, I introduce one interesting medieval text which might or might not have been influenced by the trendy “courtly love” at the time; that is, Marguerite Porete’s The Mirror of Simple Souls. In The Mirror, Porete somehow forges many dynamic dialogues among such personified human faculties as Soul, Reason, and Love. In these dialogues, each persona constantly negates, questions, and challenges the language and knowledge of one another, especially about love and how to love. At the end of multiple dialogues, Porete depicts how the complete non-attached, non-possessive Love is achieved only through the annihilated Soul. Until the Soul to be annihilated, however, the dialogues involve radical, self-emptying process (kenosis) of reason and self-will, so that the Soul can be completely emptied of any human motivation of either attachment or possessiveness. Only then, the Soul can become one with Love via non-attachment and non-possessiveness. This Union allows the Love to flow into the emptied Soul with ever-flowing abundance. Such non-possessive, non-attached love is, in fact, the most realistic kind of Love that we Christians need to live and practice, as it can prevent us from possessive attachment to distorted knowledge and vain language regarding our beloved.

Love never fails
by John Njenga Gacheru,
Kenya, Greek Orthodox Church

With love a family is glued together, a community thrives in harmony,  a society blossoms in peace, a nation stands strong and the world enshrined with love is a better place. Challenges may arise, but with wholesome love, all are conquered. With  love Christian unity flourishes, interreligious dialogue increases, and global challenges are solved with combined effort. Past solutions to global challenges may have failed but love supersedes them all. Let us spread some love this valentine’s day -  the wholesome love. Love is the key to addressing global challenges.

 

Love and Violence
by Susan Jacob, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, Chennai, India

And they asked “Teacher, What is Love?”

The Teacher said:

Love is a mother holding her new-born baby against her heart and feeling the stirrings of a bond that is caring and gentle, deep and beautiful, intense and enduring. Love is happiness that rejoices in this bundle of joy, a gift of God to be cared, nourished and brought up in grace and wisdom.

Love is a father gazing fondly at his children, taking pride in their achievements and dreaming big dreams for them. He loves his children and his heart bursts with tenderness and pride as he watches them grow into adulthood, and eventually have families of their own.

Love is a husband caring for his bride who has left her family to join him in marriage and to be his companion in life, to love and cherish in good times or bad, and in sickness and in health.

Love is a family bound to each other in times of joy and sorrow, in peace and in turmoil; honoring each other’s goals and dreams and helping each other to fulfill them. Love is the family promising to be open and honest, caring and forgiving and growing together in faith and prayer.

And they asked: “Teacher, What is Violence? Does it exist with Love?”

The Teacher said: “Love and Violence, Violence and Love? Can the two live apart?”

Violence is fear, anxiety … the fear of a child going astray… about ‘Sparing the rod and spoiling the child’. It is about punishment, loving chastisement, correcting and mildly reprimanding a naughty, rebellious child.

But Violence that is born out of hatred, out of an evil and jealous heart, out of sadistic, brutal and perverted thought, does not exist where LOVE is. Such Violence hurts and scars one’s soul and is to be condemned.

Love is compassion, concern, care and consideration. Love is gentle. Love does not hurt either physically or mentally.  Love is truth. Love is being honest with each other. Love is treating each other as equals and respecting their likes and dislikes. Love is giving each other the space to grow and pursue their own goals in life. Love is being ready to go through the worst for the person one loves. Love is unconditional. Love is sacrifice.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (I Corinthians 13: 4 – 7)

 

Rev. Gift Urassa, Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELCT): In the reading Paul the Apostle, does an exegesis on Love and tries to broaden the understanding of Love to the Church in Corinth. If we agree with Paul and apply the Love (as he elaborates) to one another it will bring an end to Evil, Inhumanity, Civil wars, Revenge, Rape, Gender injustice, Terror attacks, False charges and Discriminations due to race, economical status, disabilities or power variation. When we love we will care for one another, do good to each other, forgive and forget about the painful past and focus on the bright future. This will lead to existence of peace and justice in the world, if we abide to this word of God and fulfill it in action and not words alone. Jesus comanded us to Love one another as written in John 13:34 as a new command, meaning if we manage to love one another we shall meet the 10 commandments and ever better ensurance of eternal life to come.

Manoj Kurian: On a day we celebrate love, let us make sure that our relationships with each other radiate and reflect love. Particularly, this year as the Valentine’s day falls on a Thursday, where we reiterate our message of love to overcome violence against women and girls. May our thoughts, words and actions celebrate women, affirm their agency and their contributions to the world and to our relationships. May we celebrate those men and women, who tirelessly work to end violence against women and girls.  May we see the divine in the other, and make ourselves better people, worthy to be in the presence of God. May love prevail!


Ronald Malbog: When love came down through Jesus Christ, love was realized in all His ways. Love is not bound by anything, yet those who try to control love, lead to animosity. It was when God, the Father loved this world that it gave life to Jesus Christ – love is life-giving. Love pushes you to become a better person, it does not force yourself against others’ will. Love understands, yet it does not compromise our freedom, rather it respects. Love does not breed violence, rather it protects. Love cannot live on lies but thrives on the authenticity of one’s heart. Love is not about looks, gender, or economic status; but on the self-less act for others. Love brings justice, a world where everyone grows in righteousness. Love is a sacrifice for the greater good, not for a certain fool. Thus, Love is realized not through sexual acts but through humility, respect, and self-lessness that brings about harmony and balance to the world.

Samuel Njoroge Mwangi: What is love? The answer is anchored in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, but it seems to many of us it has become a complex word. When we look at the scripture closely, it seems that what Paul writes is beyond any human feat.  We have learnt to grow impatient and want to have our way; are kind to those we think deserve our kindness; in a world full of competition we are ever envious of what others have and never content; want to boast of our achievements and status without any due considerations of others who might not be as privileged; have developed our own standards of self-worth on which we pride ourselves and subject others to; we dishonor those not in our social status, those in authority, those older than we are; we are always seeking to do that which only is pleasant to ourselves without consideration of others; every other day we are easily angered by people or things happening around us; we are vengeful for we believe in instant justice having no place for forgiveness; we are devoid of the truth for we define it ourselves; we only protect those close to us or the high and mighty in society; we trust no one but ourselves; we have grown hopeless because of rampant injustice and are depressed; and we have become corrupt for we want all things for ourselves at an instant. This is why issues such as rape and violence are the norm in our society for we think love ought to be towards ourselves and never towards others. Paul describes love as an act of the will, and that love is not man’s creation but that of God. If God is the object of our love, we will learn how to love and then we will love our fellow brothers and sisters ending this vicious cycle of violence and torture through rape.

Love is not violent
Love is not violent by Jamie Morgan

 

Song of Solomon

Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. 7 Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned. Song of Solomon 8:6-8
Rev.Naomie Neslo-Claver