I preached the word of God but did not know God’s love for myself. I protested injustice as a demonstration of love but not in response to my own belovedness. I have taught and witnessed God’s love revealed to others while covering my eyes to the revelation myself. I have given away my possessions and followed God out of love for neighbor but always to prove that God loved me too.
And I gained nothing.
Not until I had no pulpit to stand in. No passion for the injustice around me. No one to teach. And I did not know the name of my neighbors. Then, when I could not do and demonstrate and point to evidence of God’s love; then, without job or ministry; then when sadness and inertia enveloped me, I heard God say, “You are beloved.”
In my life I wanted to live and enact and witness to the love of God. I dedicated my life to ministry—writing, preaching, ministry with youth. And I misunderstood that loving others is not the same as knowing I am loved. Speaking in the tongues of theology and Christian education without understanding my belovedness, I ran out of words. Clanging the symbols of injustice without the refilling love of God’s power left my ears ringing, unable to appreciate the music all around me. When I gave away the physical trappings of my life, I found an empty soul.
And there, speechless, exhausted, and empty I was shocked to discover that God loved me. It wasn’t the activity and bylines and sermons that God loved. God loved me.
Faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
God of love, come to us in the quiet moments, in the stillness, the nonactivity. Help us feel your deep, abiding love as pure as a parent for a child at the moment of birth—hope and joy and miraculous. Beloved. Amen.