From the Desktop of the Pastor – Week of the 5th Sunday after the Epiphany

Hi everyone,

Like many kids, our kids like to watch Youtube videos. It’d be great if they would tune into our worship services more often, but I’m not going to hold my breath. Anyway, a few months ago our daughter was watching some goofy music video with the chorus saying, “I love you but…”

It got me thinking about that phrase “I love you but…” (because honestly the song was pretty catchy), as it alludes to a conditional love that none of us really prefer for ourselves, but somehow we often display. I don’t mean to point fingers or cast shame, but I’m just stating what seems to be true in my experience.

We often have these “I love you but…” thoughts when thinking about our family, our friends, and even our significant other. “I love you, but can you be more helpful?” “I love you, but I wish you would stop acting like that.” “I love you, but I really wish you can be more like x or y or z.”

I know I’m totally guilty of this. Often I find myself wishing my kids were different, more behaved, better mannered, maybe even more interested in watching our worship services. I mean, I love them, but…

And then I realised that the music video our daughter was watching was actually saying, “I love you, butt,” as in the singer was talking about her own posterior. Yeah that kind of changes the whole song for me.

Here are the readings for next week:
Isaiah 40:21-31
Psalm 147:1-11, 20c
1 Corinthians 9:16-23
Mark 1:29-39

This unconditional love that we yearn for but don’t always give and/or receive is prevalent in these readings. We have Isaiah marveling at the wonders of God, Paul being different things for different people, and Jesus healing a woman through compassion and love. See this unconditional love isn’t one that we do or are even able to give, but it the love that God shows for us through providing, empowering, and healing.

God brought the Israelites out of captivity. God made us all worthy to be known and loved. God heals us in mind and spirit and allows us to be who we have been called to be: God’s beloved children. All of this wasn’t done because they were earned, but because God is gracious. They weren’t done as a reward for a job well done, but because God is merciful. They weren’t done because some condition was met, but because God loves us. Period. Full stop. This is the way.

Imagine that. We are deemed worthy to be loved unconditionally. And we aren’t worthy because we got ourselves there, but because God had assigned to us that worthiness, and by God’s grace our value. It is my hope and prayer that I may one day see all people with that same lens of unconditional love, that I might be able to know more fully the character, nature, and person of God, allowing me to serve God more faithfully, proclaim God more passionately, and honour God with all that I am.

The good news is that I know that even if I don’t get there, I will still be loved. That is what it means when there are no conditions.

The same is true for all of us. God loves us. God loves you. God loves me. Knowing this hopefully will change us from within to move away from segregation, labels, and walls and bring us all together as one world under God.

Thanks be to God! Have a great week, everyone!

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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