Sunday, 15 February 2015
Leading up to Valentine's Day, our theme for last Thursday's Pilgrim Dinner was Love. The discussion kicked off with the question: What is love?
"This is!" exclaimed a guest at the end of my table, a tousle-haired Italian woman named, appropriately, Valentina. She gestured to the basket of bread on the table with deep appreciation: "This is."
I wonder if she realised just how accurate her answer was.
We don't put on a dinner for between 40-80 strangers every Thursday night because it's fun. Rather, it is because we love them. We love, because Christ first loved us, when we ourselves were still enemies and strangers to Him. (Romans 5:6-10)
Love is basic to humanity. We are transfixed by it. We need it. Without it, children die, even when their primary physical needs are met.
A universe devoid of a loving, personal God can give us no satisfying answer to this. Because of the relational, infinite, Trinitarian God of the Bible, we can affirm, celebrate, pursue and practise love.
"Pursue love," Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14. As Christians, we can do this with intellectual integrity, knowing that love is true to reality - real as atoms, real as supernovae, and not a trick played on us by chaos and chemicals.
God made the universe, and God is love. (1 John 4:8, 4:16) "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) Christ's body was broken for us like bread, and we remember it by breaking bread together as believers.
On Thursday nights, one group of Christians also remembers it by offering bread, and with it the news of Christ's broken and resurrected body, to strangers.
Yes, Valentina, this is love.