Such declarations of love, kisses on the end of texts from people I don’t know, or only know in a professional capacity, Tshirts and bags with I ‘heart’ NY or whatever else, are displays of affection, which can feel odd or misplaced. All over the place we find examples of how love can be displayed in a light hearted or even meaningless sense. For such a rich language, it is interesting that English only has one word for love. Perhaps it is not surprising that it gets overused or misused at times. In Latin, there are different words – ‘eros’ for sexual or erotic love and ‘caritas’ for compassionate love, or charity. There is also a Greek word, ‘agape’, which is used to describe Christian love or concern for one another.
The command in Micah 6:8, ‘To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’ forms the basis of our worship theme this month. Loving mercy sounds like ‘caritas’ – loving-kindness. Love is a ‘doing’ word. We can tell someone all we like that we love them, but it is our actions and attitudes that give evidence of whether we actively love or not. We sang ‘And they’ll know we are Christians by our love’ in worship recently. People hopefully see something in how we live our lives, the values that we have and how we put them into practice that speaks to them of our faith. Obviously, there are many people of all faiths and none who show loving-kindness to those around them and strive to make the world a better place. As followers of Jesus, however, it should be a hallmark of who we are, not an added extra.
At the moment, Naomi is designing our T-shirts for Pride. The logo will read ‘God loves you’. If we want people to experience the love of God first hand, then we need to be the ones showing the love of God to them. We are called to show this love, just where we are, with the people that we are with, in the way that will make a difference. There will never be the perfect time or place, there is only ‘now’ and ‘here’.