When I was a child there were many times when I felt I was at sea in a terrible storm unable to get my sea legs.
My dad was a tall, charming man; adventurous and a bit of a gambler. He was a skilled tugboat captain and a good provider. He loved us. He also battled demons, including alcohol. One week he would tug tankers up the Hudson River, the next he would be home. On the weeks he was home we never knew from day to day or hour to hour whether we would encounter charming Dad or angry Dad. It was important to keep our eyes on the horizon for the storm clouds.
Love saved me. My mom made sure we knew we were loved and cared for. She was our port in the storm: calm, smart, very protective, and the best listener I’ve ever known. Perhaps most important of all, she taught us that Jesus loved us. Mom didn’t go to church; my sisters and I had to. I didn’t understand religion at all (maybe the Latin mass?), but I got that Jesus cared for me. I can’t stress enough how important it was to me then and now; how Jesus calmed my soul. I’ve developed a more nuanced (if incomplete) understanding of faith, grace, forgiveness, bearing with each other and such. But at the heart of the matter it was love that made all the difference.
We live now in unsettling times. Anger and violence seem rampant. The earth and rhetoric are both overheating. I find my eyes straying to the horizon.
I believe love is still the answer. We need each other in this congregation as brothers and sisters in Christ to listen to and care for each other. We need to live out Jesus’s commandment to love one another outside of our church; being generous with those who have less and showing compassion whether we are with people who agree with us or disagree. We need to teach Jesus’s message to our children and to folks who have wandered away or never known Him. And we need our church to lead the way.
We all have to set priorities for how we spend our money and there’s a lot of competition for it. Sharing Jesus’s message is at the top of my list – because love comes first.