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A reformation of love: February 11.

Jeremiah 17:5-10; Psalm 1; 1 Corinthians 15:12-20; Luke 6:17-26

Jeremiah's scathing words of judgment are interesting to consider, especially around Valentine's Day: "Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals and make mere flesh their strengths, whose hearts turn away from the Lord" (Jeremiah 17:5). His words are a call to carefully consider who, what, how, and why we love. As an Anabaptist, I read and experience the gospel as a call to love friends, neighbors, and enemies. Such love is strong and tenacious--it can't be bought or sold like flowers, chocolates, or teddy bears. In the face of ridicule and persecution it stands firm, like the flourishing trees that line the riverbanks (Jeremiah 17:8). Such love is also discerning, naming those things that masquerade as love: ignorance, fear, manipulation, coercion, racial supremacy, and more.

Abolitionist Frederick Douglass (who chose Feb. 14 to celebrate his birthday) once said, "Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe." True love teaches us that our lives are intertwined with one another; real homeland security requires gospel love.

Life that flourishes in the face of systemic and personal violence requires persistence and courage. Jesus' teaching to both the poor and the satisfied in our passage from Luke 6 reminds us that not everyone needs the same kind of healing--some need food, others need laughter--but everyone needs to be healed. Gospel love proclaims the end of sappy love and the beginning of just love.

In 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, "Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love." Maybe this is why I'm drawn to playwright Eve Ensler's Valentine's Day reformation, known as "V-Day," which aims to end violence against women and girls so that we can trust all those we love.
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Title Annotation:Living the Word: Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle C
Author:Berry, Malinda Elizabeth
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Feb 1, 2007
Previous Article:Leaving certitude: February 4.
Next Article:The embrace of the cross: February 18.

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