By Rev. Garrett Rocha
We all do some crazy things for love. Think of some of your fondest and silliest memories that are connected to the people you love. Did you try your hand at poetry, cooking, or a new hobby to catch the attention of your partner? What are some of the exciting predicaments that you have found yourself in when supporting your children or close friends? Think about what you would do without question to help those you love. What are you capable of?
The question of the bounds of love is interesting to think on. I love how countless people answer in their own unique ways. There are so many quips of poetry and art that exist because people want to communicate how much they love one another. Some of the best ones can be found on coffee mugs. Americans have quite the fascination with the drinkware, and you can find almost any saying on them. I have seen the “I love you to the moon and back” and its Appalachian cousin, “I love you to the moonshine and back.” When logical arguments, scientific inquiry, or math has reached its limits to explain human behavior, art in all of its forms seeks the depths of boundless love.
Shakespeare is a master of explaining the complexities of love as a force in our times. My two favorite plays are Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing. Both communicate very different forms of love. The former shows the ends of sickly love, no matter how well-intentioned. The latter is a comedy of romance and cheerful play between couples. Let us focus on Hamlet for a bit for this article. First I encourage you to see it or read it. Watching it performed makes understanding the language more accessible. As you will gather, each of the characters acts out of a deep sense of love. Our faithful protagonist, Prince Hamlet, struggles after the profound loss of his father. It is hard to say if his loss has driven him to madness or he is calculated in his actions to avenge his father. His mother, Queen Gertrude, stricken by grief over the loss of her husband and out of loving concern for her son and country marries her brother-in-law. Hamlet’s uncle, King Claudius, had a deep love for the power that comes with the crown. His actions are deeply colored by this love throughout the play. Lastly, Ophelia, Hamlet’s lover, struggles with romantic love not returned by the troubled prince. There are more characters who display the lengths in which one would go driven by their love for something. Hamlet is a tragedy, with the characters meeting an unfortunate end in one way or another. Much Ado About Nothing, on the other hand, is a light-hearted romantic comedy ending with weddings and the much sought "happily ever after" ending. Love and its motivations behind such love have serious consequences. For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, or for richer or poorer we are creatures of love.
Our God, who is love, went much further than the characters in Shakespeare’s plays. Through the incarnation and revelation of Jesus did humans first begin to see how God’s love seeks to be in our lives. In his relationships with the disciples, his other followers, and the larger world around, we see the divine choosing to do the work of reconciliation and transformation. Our message this week will explore the type of love that we are to have for one another as Christians.
I hope you are challenged by Jesus’ ministry in a real and practical way. Who are the Samaritans in your life? Think of those who are viewed as dangerous, outsiders, or unworthy. Who are the children in your life? Not your actual children today, but people who are considered as a nuisance or inconsequential in the world. Who are the blind, sick, and disabled? Think of those who are talked about often but receive little care or compassion.
As chosen people, we are to have the character of Christ’s love that governs our lives. Think about and discern how you can better do the work of loving compassionately. How might that help you reach people where they are? Will that relationship renew yourself and others in the life of Jesus Christ? Will you actually do that work after being released by the church?
Be encouraged and prayerfully answer those questions. Be inspired to act on the stirring of the Holy Spirit. Be encouraged to be the church where you are so that the world will be transformed.
I hope to see you on Sunday at 8:15, NINE45, or 11:15 a.m. for worship. You can also go to SAUMC.NET and join us via Livestream. Blessings upon you and I cannot wait to see you!