Showing Bigger, Better Love

Along The Way published in the December 17, This Week At Plymouth
“Birth a witness of Love that is bigger and better than we inherited . . . let us love more fully than we thought possible . . . let us stand for Love and with Love”
—Sarah Bessey, “A Prayer for the Church”
By Rev. Dr. DeWayne L. Davis
I am so steeped in church life and God-talk that I sometimes forget that some people have a hard time believing what I say about God, love, and faith. Especially in the aftermath of natural disasters, like the destructive tornado that swept through six states last week, killing hundreds of people, or the year of a catastrophic global pandemic, we are awash in words—words of sorrow, words of prayer, or words of God’s love. Our message must seem incredible to those not part of a faith community during this season of Advent. In our songs, prayers, and proclamation, we assert that God loves us so much that God is sending a messenger who will prepare the way for the Lord. God loves us so much that God is sending the Promised One who will bring justice and righteousness to a broken world. I wonder if this message of love makes a difference for those suffering.
Who among us hasn’t wondered about God’s love when things don’t go right? Especially in times of our deepest pain and suffering, in our most profound disappointments in life, in all the ways that life has been less than good and joyous, our faith in the love of God can take a severe beating. In this season, in which we are to wait expectantly for God to do a new thing, our look back at the worst moments of our lives or our survey of the chaos and confusion of the present time may not convince us that God’s love and justice will prevail. Too much has gone wrong, too much has been lost, too much is still uncertain. Can and will love make a difference?
I am convinced that love can make a difference. If we loved more fully than we thought possible, if we witnessed to bigger and better love, perhaps we can inspire others to love bigger and better. Perhaps our task is not to say or sing more about love. The late bell hooks said it best, “When we love, we can let our hearts speak.” Maybe we are called to love each other so much that when God does God’s new thing, we will be ready to participate in it more fully. Maybe the love we are anticipating can be glimpsed and experienced by serving our neighbors with willing generosity, confronting domination systems that oppress people, and seeking justice for those who are oppressed and persecuted. Perhaps what we hope for can be found by awakening to a powerful love that reminds us that the world and we are worth saving. No matter what comes, let us stand for and with love.
DeWayne L. Davis