As Valentine's day approaches, some of us might feel a bit of pressure to be romantic or perhaps we hope to be "romanced" by our partner in some special way. Will we meet their expectations? Will they meet ours? Darn holiday created by greeting card vendors...argh!
As I was savoring a giant, chocolate-covered strawberry brought to my hospice team by a kind team member (yum!), I was thinking about our innocence. Remember when we used to pass valentines as school aged kids? Will my favorite girl crush give me a Valentine? Love was more simple then. Love seems to get more complicated as we grow older.
In English, our "love language" is often constraint to one word. I love ice cream! I also love my beloved Julie! I wouldn't give my life for ice cream but I would for my sweet valentine Julia! In the Koine Greek of New Testament, there are several words for love. Eros is the fiery passion that burns in our heart for our beloved...a possessive and desiring love. Growing up in a 100-year old plus farm house, we burned wood almost continuously in our wood stove during the winter months. My dad would call out "Am I the only one who keeps putting wood in the stove?" ;)
Sadly, the heat of eros fire can cool to ice if we don't stoke the fire. For Julie and I, our fiery eros flows through the heat and cool cycles like all covenant relationships. However, following the guidance the Bible and Hot Monogamy, we threw some wood on the fire and things are less chilly in the bedroom. Hot Monogamy is a respectful look into sexual love that is compatible with the Bible's teaching on eros in covenant relationships. We commend that resource to all who are attached. It does take vulnerability to open ourselves to each other in this way...but is worth it. I look forward to looking deeper into the importance of vulnerability in our compassionate living with you all on Sunday March 3th.
Eros is the passion love that springs from a deeper love inspired by Our Lord Jesus's agape (unconditional love). While we would be willing to take a bullet for one of our own, Jesus laid down his life for billions...all humanity! Now that is more inspiring than a sweet love story.
For many today, Valentine's day has become a celebration of love in general. This love would be best described as phileo, from which, first-time Champions Philadelphia, the city of brotherly (sisterly) love, derives it's name. I like to call this the love within a close family...including the family of God. Today's Valentines Breakfast celebrates each of these loves....but most importantly the love of God expressed through our hands and feet!
The romantic pressure is still present and whether we are single or attached we might feel a bit of loneliness or disappointment. Yet, God's longing for the church (the family of God) is first to express phileo as we support each other in seasons of joy and grief. God in Jesus fully expresses agape perfectly as he gave His life so that we might forever live in His Embrace.
The holiday can also be an invitation to honor those loved ones...friends and family that we have lost. A Honduran proverb says that a grief shared is a grief halved. In our most gut wrenching losses, I am not sure that this math works all of time. Whether we are in a season of joy or grief, we can feel a sense of togetherness by sharing both our joys and our losses in the royal embrace of our Creator.
Happy Valentine’s Day,