Love cannot come with harm and destruction

by Jennifer P. Martin last modified 14 February 2019 04:33 PM
Love cannot come with harm and destruction

Families at a worship service, Arusha 2018. Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

14 February 2019

Dear Friends

The reading from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 has long been one of my favourites.  It calls to mind what perfected love would look like.  Nonetheless, the phrase "endures all things" verse 7,  has given me much pause for thought on many occasions over these long years.

At my church, as indeed in many others, persons are asked to stand for a "good wish song" in honour of their birthday, wedding anniversary or other cause for joyful celebration.

One Sunday when the invitation was extended, a number of persons stood up to accept greetings and blessings.  One middle aged woman stood up after the song and said, "Today is my anniversary.  Twenty-five years. Twenty-five very sad years." The silence was deafening.  Only slowly did we respond.  Her situation was never improved.  The violence done, infidelity and abandonment remained part of her reality during his lifetime.  Her solace came only after illness led to his death.

She was instrumental in his seeking and accepting God's forgiveness of his sins during the last weeks of his life.  She still trusts our Saviour and is happy for the respite that she has enjoyed for a decade now.

Very recently, on Sunday January 27, 2019, Women's Fellowship Sunday, a United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands (UCJCI) sister and I visited one of our congregations.  During the celebration time, the woman leading the service called out that that very day was her wedding anniversary.  She said blissfully, "9 glorious years".  The church cheered rapturously. Her husband was asked to stand, a prayer offered and the moment was sealed with a kiss.

What a contrast between these 2 vignettes!  We are called to love each other in a fulsome self giving way.  Love cannot come with harm and destruction.  Violence cannot be accepted as part of the formula of love.  Thus my discomfort with accepting the open ended expression of verse 7 - "Love endures all things", endurance conjures up an image suffering something unpleasant and prolonged patiently as described by the 2005 Compact Oxford Dictionary.  Some cultural elements even seem to accept pain, suffering, physical violence as integral components of love.  Thursdays in Black rejects the endurance of anything harmful under the guise of love.

It is my prayer that the campaign will help both women and men to love themselves and each other in a glorious way that brings joy to us as people but even more in a manner that brings joy to the heart of God.

Disclaimer

The impressions, hopes and ideas expressed in this blog are the contributions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or policies of the World Council of Churches.

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