Sunday, February 3, 2013

Love is Patient

Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, it is not pompous,
It is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.

Who have I made Christ Jesus out to be? How do I experience Him? How is He trying to reveal God’s own Self to me? And am I, are we often simply missing the point, the simple truth of who God wants to be for us in Christ? Paul shows up just in time this morning with the classic beauty of his hymn to love, a hymn to Christ Jesus who is God’s Word of love enfleshed for us.

Love is patient, love is kind, he says. Christ Jesus our Lord is patient, always waiting for us, in no hurry, never coercive; waiting outside the door for us to let Him in; awaiting our return to God, and so bearing the cruel hardship of the cross without complaint- in patient love for us.

Christ Jesus is most kind, deeply concerned for our well-being, our happiness, our healing, mourning our losses with us; finding us there in the weakness which we would prefer to hide from Him, from ourselves and from one another. He wants to soothe our anxieties, longs to console us if we will allow Him. “Be comforted my people. I am your deliverance. Your servitude, your exile is over.”

Christ Jesus is not a jealous God, not in competition with his creation; but encountering us here in the beauty and challenge of our relationships with one another.

Jesus our Lord does not brood over our mistakes and failures. Thank God. He does not keep an account book of my failures and infidelities, the craziness of my past. As far as the east is from the west so far has He removed our sins. Blinded by God’s unrelenting desire to forgive and heal us, He bends low to wash our feet in our neediness, our dereliction and loneliness of heart; always towards us, always for us.

Christ endures all things for us; rejoices in the innate goodness and holiness of who we are; Christ Jesus hopes all things for us.  He will never fail us; never ever. He cannot, for Love never ends. He calls us, leads us to rediscover the beauty of the image, the truth that was placed within us from the beginning. He teaches us how to discover within ourselves, through self-knowledge, the goal of our desiring; for it is He, Love enfleshed, who has made his abode in the shabby broken-down "hovel of our heart."Gregory of Nyssa

What shall we make of this? What good would life have been for us had Christ not come to rescue us in our nothingness, to show you and me that we are lovable, worth God’s precious blood? With Him I have everything, all I need; and He is enough, for He is love.

Love is patient, love is kind. Today this simple Word is fulfilled in our hearing, in Christ. What are we to do? Is He too much for us? Shall we run him out of town like the folks from Nazareth. Is He, is Love, all too accessible? How can we manage the unremitting patience and loving-kindness of God in Christ? The truth is we cannot manage such love; we can only try to accept it as simple mercy.