According to Charles Wesley, Love is the “nature and… name” of God. Continuing with the text of Wesley’s epic hymn, “Come, O Thou Traveler Unknown,” God is not just “Love,” but “pure, Universal Love,” whose mercies move “to me, to all.” Therefore, the movement of love in the human community can be understood to be the movement of the Spirit as an offering of love for all people.
In this series of texts from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, there are concrete actions that Paul suggests, and they all have their foundation in the love of God. In the first week, Paul stresses the need for unity—not that all will be the same, but that all people have different gifts that complement each other and can be used in building up the entire body in love. In the second week, we are called to a very difficult task: “Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (Eph. 5:1-2, NRSV). What does it mean to imitate God? Earlier in this passage, Paul gives a helpful list of actions to consider. Week three encourages a return of love from the people to God by giving thanks and being filled with the Spirit. Lastly, the well-known passage related to the “whole armor of God” (Eph. 6:11, NRSV) even has its groundings in love. Notice all the parts of the armor are not intended for violence, but living out the love of God—in truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the Spirit. We tend to focus upon the warlike images in this last passage, but the things they represent obviously point toward the love of God. In addition, the image of “standing” doesn’t necessarily mean “standing still.” This is an act of preparation, of getting up and getting ready. To do what? Well, that is in the hands of the church.
As a part of this series, it will be just as important to focus upon “community” as “unity.” What is your church doing to:
- Build one another up in love?
- Live in love?
- Give thanks in love?
- Move in love?
For many communities, school will be resuming around this time. As you prepare for worship, what are some ways the church can act in love in the public witness of worship and in the community by preparing children and partnering with schools? What are acts of blessing and commissioning, whether for students or teachers, that can embody acts of love? May the love of God be felt, received, and shared as these and other actions are taken “…in love.”
Week 1: August 5 Build Up
Week 2: August 12 Live
Week 3: August 19 Give Thanks
Week 4: August 26 Move