Midweek Faith Life
February 15, 2023
Love Never Fails
Clark Ford, Guest Speaker
Good Morning! Welcome to Valentine’s week, where many of us are thinking about heart, our heart’s desire, and about love.
Hearts and Love. Those two things are not exactly the same are they?
Our heart, as our figurative emotional center, is our gateway to feeling love, to giving love and feeling loved, but it is not what love is. It is our connection to love.
Our heart’s desire is just that: desire. What we want emotionally. What we crave and feel we need. When we are heartbroken, we are feeling loss of something dear to us.
Our heart breaking open is an intense emotional response to something that may lead us to insights about ourselves, it may sweep away impediments to loving action we may have been ignoring or avoiding.
Falling in love certainly involves love, but it also is something we do with our heart. And here I don’t mean just romantic love, but love between parents and children, between friends, with pets, and with the divine. We lower our personal boundaries to allow others or spirit into our lives emotionally. We bond.
While we may not think of it as falling in love, something similar happens when we embrace a new idea or way of thinking. We lower our boundaries to allow a new idea or understanding of the world in. Over time, these ideas become part of us, just as the people do we fall in love with, and we are heartbroken and must grieve when that changes.
Our heart mediates our emotional responses to things. It informs our ideas of right and wrong, good and bad, provides the impetus for empathy and understanding, kindness and care.
Some people rely heavily on their feelings to guide their lives. Things have to “feel” right. Others rely more on logic – things have to make sense.
Feelings can be hurt, hearts wounded, with sometimes profound effects on people’s lives. Emotional abuse, especially of children, may negatively affect someone throughout their lifetime.
By the same token, emotional nourishment, a safe loving environment and loving, caring parents can prepare a child for a lifetime with the ability to love others, to care about others, and positively impact family, friends, and their community for a lifetime.
As many of you know, I am a wedding officiant. In my message during wedding ceremonies, I often speak of love as being the foundation of a couple’s married life. And I speak of self-love as being essential. I tell couples to fill their own chalice with love and let it overflow to the other. I tell them that they cannot give what they do not have.
To love yourself, you have to forgive yourself. To love anyone else, you have to forgive them. We are all struggling to grow spiritually, and to do that we need as much love as we can get. As our cup overflows to others, we pass that love along.
Self-love is not always easy. It sure helps though, if you feel love, if you are bathed in love, if you were raised with love, if you feel secure in that love.
I mentioned pets earlier for a good reason. Pets that you care about will love and forgive you unconditionally. They will be overjoyed to see you when you come home.
They are a constant reminder that you have worth, that you matter to someone, that you are loved and lovable no matter what. That maybe you even deserve to love yourself. And once you can love yourself, you can love others…
And, I mentioned spirit. Embracing the divine with love. Surely, we feel this in our heart. We can try to embrace the divine with our head, we can try to understand, but at some point we must concede that the divine is beyond all understanding. And yet the heart knows. The heart knows, through love.
So what is this thing called love? John Lennon and Paul McCartney said: “All You Need Is Love.”
Paul of Tarsus said: “Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous, love does not brag and is not arrogant. Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes in all things, hopes all things, endures all things, love never fails.”
Wow. Now, I don’t buy into everything Paul of Tarsus said, but I love this. This, to me describes unconditional love.
Love is Patient. In our cosmic journey of this life and beyond, we are learning the lessons of love and of patience. Some would maintain that that is why we are here. When we fail, we can expect more lessons in this life or beyond. Patience with ourselves, with our children, with our loved ones, with our community. Love without patience is not very loving.
Love is Kind. As our cup overflows, we have much love to give others. And kindness and caring are things that everyone needs. Everyone needs love, needs to feel loved. Kindness and caring are a tangible expression of love. This is what Jesus taught.
Love is not jealous. Love looks out for the best interest of others. It is not self-oriented. Our loved ones may have other friends, other parental figures, other influences in their lives. It is not a loss of love when your child begins to connect with and love a new step-mom or dad. There are no limits to love. Children, in fact all of us, need as much love in our lives as we can get.
Love is not arrogant or bragging or unrighteous or untruthful. All of those things are strategies of the immature ego, the lower self, to gain self-importance. Love is giving, kind, fair, truthful, and gives praise. Love is the language of the higher self.
Love bears all things, believes in all things, hopes all things endures all things. Wow. Love can be hard to do. It is a mature and caring response to pain, grief, injustice, and deceit. Love does not believe all lies, but instead believes all things are possible. Love creates joy, connection, healing and well-being.
Love is the opposite of fear. When you think about it, fear arises in the parts of us that we have not let love into.
Marianne Williamson said: "As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others."
What she is talking about is love. When we let go of our fear, we shine a light, the light of love, on ourselves and others. It is absolutely liberating.
Jesus preached love and modeled it for us. Jesus was not fearful. He was not afraid to shine the light of his love on others.
Love never fails, because love is a spiritual thing. It transcends our existence and time and space.
We may not have a handle on other forms of spirituality, but love has been part of most of our lives, throughout our life. Or we would not have survived. As Forrest Gump said: “I am not a smart man, but I know what love is.”
In theoretical physics, the holy grail is a unified theory that explains all the forces of the universe from gravity to subatomic attraction. They may as well be talking about love. They just don’t know it!
When miracles happen, it is through love, an expression of love, made tangible in our lives.
We can think of the universe as being created in love, by love and of love. God is love. As the song says “You are sacred love, God, sacred love is all that you are.”
That might not be the ancient Hebrew conception of God who was jealous and punishing, but a conception of God informed by the message and life of Jesus.
So we are called to love. To use our hearts to seek love, to understand love, to feel love, to receive love, to give love, to follow the path of love in all we do.
I’ll say that again: W we are called to love. To use our hearts to seek love, to understand love, to feel love, to receive love, to give love, to follow the path of love in all we do.
Perhaps this is what Todd Davis meant a few weeks ago when talking about Heart Action. Following the path of love will take us where many of us have never dared to go before. It is opening our boundaries to as much love as we can give and receive.
It is not an easy path, but love is our lesson in this lifetime and beyond. It is what we are called to do. It is who we are at our core, and who we will always be. Blessed Be.