Rev. Dr. DeWayne L. Davis
This Week at Plymouth, December 22, 2023
“How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.”
—W.H. Auden, “The More Loving One”
Several years ago, right about this time of the year before Christmas, I visited a church member who had been unable to attend church for a while because of decreasing mobility. As we were winding down our visit and conversation, he leaned in close, almost whispering to share a profound message about love: “The world is full of unspoken love.” With those few words, I searched my memories to remember those times I may have failed to show and articulate love. Would we even recognize love when it is spoken? How many times have we looked at real and active love, love that does not conform to expectations, love demonstrated toward those who are hated or rejected, love that prompts us to reach out to those we are supposed to avoid, love that inspires us to show up in support and solidarity for the people considered the wrong people?
During this season, when we anticipate and celebrate Emmanuel, God with us, we are awash in the reflection of a love that would compel God to be incarnated to dwell among us. That is love amplified loudly and boldly. Amid the world’s sinfulness and brokenness, God’s determination to be with us profoundly demonstrates God’s love, not as an emotion but as a tangible, active, visible manifestation in the world.
When God is with us, love is shown and acted out in ways that defy our expectations. God’s presence doesn’t adhere to a prescribed formula or the rules of our religious organizations. Instead, it challenges the norms of culture and the structures of imperial power. It’s like the experience of Mary, a young girl found to be carrying a child from the Holy Spirit. It’s like Joseph, a soon-to-be father defying his religious tradition to honor God’s call. It’s like the angel Gabriel, a messenger of God, arriving just in time to prophesy that God has acted, and there’s no need to fear doing the unexpected. In God’s presence, love prevails. It leads, creates, sends, lifts, and shakes the foundations of our beliefs and expectations.
Take some time to reconsider the power of love and speak it. Give voice to that deep abiding love that God has for God’s creation. Embody that unconditional love that emanated from God from the beginning of creation when God formed and breathed life into all things. Reconsider love, not as a form of transaction or a means to an end, but the end itself—love whereby God looks upon the creation with a deep commitment to bringing us life and renewal; love, whereby God incarnated God’s self in the Word made flesh to show us what love alive looks like. Speak love.