Epiphany Reflections: Epiphany Love
Epiphany Reflections 2022
Confluence, a Center for Spirituality in the Diocese of Missouri, dedicated to providing opportunities and resources for spiritual formation.
If I were to ask – “What is the opposite of love?” – most of us would likely answer rather quickly: “hate.” Our Presiding Bishop has a different answer for us to ponder. Bishop Michael Curry contends that the opposite of love is selfishness - selfishness that is false pride, self-centered pride that puts the “me” in the center of the world, and you and God and everybody else on the periphery. He maintains that this selfishness “is the root of all evil. It is the source of every wrong. It is behind every bigotry. It is behind every injustice. It is the root cancer of every war. It is the source of every destruction” (General Convention Sermon, Austin, TX., 2018).
Bishop Curry’s fear is that if left untethered this selfishness will eventually destroy God’s creation. I share his concern.
And love is the cure. The power of love to solve and nurture and heal extends beyond our personal relationships and our close communities; it extends out to our neighborhoods, our cities, our governments, and nations. Love can lift us up when the gravity of selfishness will pull us down. Love can bind us together when selfishness tears us apart. Love heals the wounds that selfishness inflicts on the marginalized of the world. Love is the source of freedom, the root source of life. The way to fulfilled life is the way of love.
As the church, we are agents of God’s love in the world, not seeking our own advantage, but working on behalf of others. Love is our response to God’s gracious love for us, and it is from this relationship of love that all our spiritual gifts spring. As much as we would like to, we cannot think ourselves into a new way of living, but we practice a new way of living a life of love to come to a new way of thinking. As Bishop Curry has reminded us, if it’s not about love, it’s not about God.
Can we trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, and love extravagantly? Can we make a renewed commitment to be God’s people of love? God’s epiphany, God’s revelation of God’s self, calls me to nothing less.
The Rev. Jerre Birdsong, a member of the Confluence Board of Directors serves St. Mark’s in St. Louis and Emmanuel Church in Webster Groves as Deacon.