A Valentine’s Note from JCC: Songs and poems about different kinds of love: for people, for the world, for each other (hopeful, sad, reflective, rowdy)

SONGS about LOVE:

Blessing for the Brokenhearted  — Jan Richardson
There is no remedy for love but to love more. – Henry David Thoreau

Let us agree
for now
that we will not say
the breaking
makes us stronger
or that it is better
to have this pain
than to have done
without this love.

Let us promise
we will not
tell ourselves
time will heal
the wound,
when every day
our waking
opens it anew.

Perhaps for now
it can be enough
to simply marvel
at the mystery
of how a heart
so broken
can go on beating,
as if it were made
for precisely this—

as if it knows
the only cure for love
is more of it,

as if it sees
the heart’s sole remedy
for breaking
is to love still,

as if it trusts
that its own
persistent pulse
is the rhythm
of a blessing
we cannot
begin to fathom
but will save us
nonetheless.From The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief
© Jan Richardson (Wanton Gospeller Press, 2016). janrichardson.com


Beatitudes for Those Who Love
This prayer-poem is by Rev. Maren Tirabassi.

For Valentine’s Eve, Luke’s Beatitudes

Blessed are you who are poor
with no pink greeting cards or chocolate,
because you love someone with dementia –
for God remembers enough for both of you.

Blessed are you who are hungry for a love
forbidden by family or culture,
by law or religion,
by damage sustained in heart or spirit,
or by anyone who tears your family apart at a border–
because God promises you the taste of kisses.

Blessed are you who are shunned or bullied
in person and online for your body or your abilities,
for you will have a day  
when you will see yourself in a mirror
and laugh with joy at how God made you beautiful.

Blessed are you when someone
assumes the fact that you didn’t marry
means you don’t know about love,
or when they call a child you cherish –
“just a foster kid,”
or bar the way of the therapy dog
who holds your heart together,
because your wounds do not fit
their definitions,
or turn you away in tears
from an ex-spouse’s visiting hours.

Re-joy in that day, for you understand
far more than most ever will.

But woe to you who hoard a loving family,
rather than sharing it with the lonely,
for you are consoled now.

Woe to you who expect life
to be all honeymoon,
for you won’t be resilient to disappointment.

Woe to you who laugh at anyone
who is unloved,
or whose love is dismissed –
for you will never be able to take it back
when the tears in your life teach you wisdom.

Woe to you when all congratulate
your penmanship or tech savvy in life,
but you forget the teacher
who once told you to make
a Valentine, not just for those like you,
but for everyone in class,

no, not the teacher in second grade –
the one two thousand years ago.

+++

Rev. Maren C. Tirabassi

POEM  — Maya Angelou

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.
Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.
We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

The Dance— Wendell Berry

I would have each couple turn,
join and unjoin, be lost
in the greater turning
of other couples, woven
in the circle of a dance,
the song of long time flowing

over them, so they may return,
turn again in to themselves
out of desire greater than their own,
belonging to all, to each,
to the dance, and to the song
that moves them through the night.

What is fidelity? To what
does it hold? The point
of departure, or the turning road
that is departure and absence
and the way home? What we are
and what we were once

are far estranged. For those
who would not change, time
is infidelity. But we are married
until death, and are betrothed
to change. By silence, so,
I learn my song. I earn

my sunny fields by absence, once
and to come. And I love you
as I love the dance that brings you
out of the multitude
in which you come and go.
Love changes, and in change is true.

Meditations on love for the fourth Sunday of Advent

Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!— Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Love is the bridge between you and everything. ~ Rumi

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is to love and be loved in return. – Natalie Cole

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. – Lao Tzu

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable. – C.S. Lewis

SONGS about LOVE:

PRAYER
Be for them, Lord, a defense in emergency, a harbor in shipwreck, a refuge in the journey, shade in the heat, light in the darkness, as staff on the slippery slope, joy amidst suffering, consolation in sadness, safety in adversity, caution in prosperity, so that these your servants, under your leadership, may arrive unharmed … — Christian prayer from a liturgy for those setting off on pilgrimage, — The Missal of Vich, A.D. 1038


BLESSING Kundalini Yoga farewell blessing  
May the long time sun
Shine upon you,
All love surround you,
And the pure light within you
Guide your way on.


FIVE PRECEPTS (Reiki principles)

  1. Just for today, I will not be angry.
  2. Just for today, I will not worry.
  3. Just for today, I will be grateful.
  4. Just for today, I will do my work honestly.
  5. Just for today, I will be kind to every living thing.

INVITATION— Mary Oliver

Oh do you have time
to linger for just a little while
out of your busy
and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles
for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note,
or the lowest,
or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air
as they strive
melodiously
not for your sake
and not for mine
and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude –
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing
just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world.
I beg of you,
do not walk by
without pausing
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.
It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.

COMMENTARY ABOUT LOVE

Where there is love there is life. – Mahatma Gandhi

The greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. – Dalai Lama

Love is more than a noun – it is a verb; it is more than a feeling – it is caring, sharing, helping, sacrificing. – William Arthur Ward

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. ~ Rumi

… But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it! ― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Nothing God ever does, or ever did, or ever will do, is separate from the love of God. — A.W.Tozer

… the action and behavior produced by love is distinctly countercultural. In a society where so much is presented in terms of “self”—self-awareness, self-esteem, self-acceptance, self-image, self-realization—to present a way of existence in which a person lives for the other in a life of loving self-sacrifice will be highly provocative. Following the one who gave his life as a sacrifice for us will be humbling and undoubtedly costly in terms of human recognition and progress in life as secular society defines it.— zondervanacademic.com

DANCE— Wendell Berry
… And I love you
as I love the dance that brings you
out of the multitude
in which you come and go.
Love changes, and in change is true.


I Did Think,
Let’s Go About This Slowly

— Mary Oliver
I did think, let’s go about this slowly.
This is important. This should take
some really deep thought.
We should take
small thoughtful steps.
But, bless us, we didn’t.

OF LOVE

I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out.  – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

In the end we discover that to love and let go can be the same thing.— Jack Kornfield

Let the beauty of what you love be what you do. – Rumi


You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching, Love like you’ll never be hurt, Sing like there’s nobody listening, And live like it’s heaven on earth. – William W. Purkey


Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. – Martin Luther King Jr.


Love is never lost. If not reciprocated, it will flow back and soften and purify the heart.  – Washington Irving


Life is the first gift, love is the second, and understanding the third. – Marge Piercy

Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place. – Zora Neale Hurston

The chance to love and be loved exists no matter where you are. – Oprah Winfrey

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another. – Charles Dickens, Dr. Marigold

Ahava / Love as reflected in Jewish prayer known as Shema

There is no remedy for love but to love more.
—Henry David Thoreau

The first two of these commandments —
love for God and love for our fellow humans —
are actualized through mitzvot, a system that shapes ideals
into behavior and is deepened through communal norms.
— Joanna Samuels

Love God. Love God with everything you are: heart, mind, soul, strength. Love God with your life. — Kathryn M. Schifferdecker,
SONGS about AHAVA/LOVE
Ahava by Yonina (ballad): https://youtu.be/XqDH6RH5jas
Love/Ahava by Daniel Jawahar (Indian pop Christian): https://youtu.be/x11r5-7ciQs
Ahavat Olam performed by Platt Brothers (Hebrew worship): https://youtu.be/1yhk_obX7CQ
Ahava by Liran Notik (pop): https://youtu.be/mVKAwm3uaqs
Love Ahava by Everything Worship (Christian): https://youtu.be/Xy50VuvdYqM
Ahava Ka’zo (A Love Like This) by Idan Raichel (pop ballad): https://youtu.be/zkyorHkaJUA
Shir Ahava Bedui (A Bedouin Love Song) by David Broza (folk rock): https://youtu.be/z5mCVtcc8Hg
Some Love / Kama Ahava by Kobi Peretz (pop): https://youtu.be/XkpdFicK5As
Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) performed by The Voice of One Calling (Hebrew/Arabic Christian): https://youtu.be/ZHW0uTpzsCM
Shema by Misha Goetz & Shae Wilbur (Jewish contemporary): https://youtu.be/81HSXFtYMRs
Shir Ahava (Love Song) performed by David Seguin (Hebrew Christian worship): https://youtu.be/UEX83Irhag4

SONGS about LOVE
Somebody to Love by Jefferson Airplane (rock): https://youtu.be/5Jj3wZVc7nw
All You Need is Love by The Beatles (rock): https://youtu.be/_7xMfIp-irg
I Will Always Love You by Dolly Parton (country): https://youtu.be/lKsQR72HY0s
Love Is All performed by Playing for Change children’s choir (pop anthem): https://youtu.be/q4T37EaW4eU
Lean on Me by Bill Withers (rock): https://youtu.be/qkaexjc-1os
What’s Love Got to Do with It? by Tina Turner (rock): https://youtu.be/oGpFcHTxjZs
Vision of Love by Mariah Carey (pop ballad): https://youtu.be/tov22NtCMC4
The Book of Love by the Magnetic Fields (rock ballad): https://youtu.be/jkjXr9SrzQE
That’s How Strong My Love Is by Otis Redding (rock ballad): https://youtu.be/l7T9HKmERv0
I Say a Little Prayer by Aretha Franklin: https://youtu.be/7Ifw8JhDBvs
Cheek to Cheek by Ella Fitzgerald (ballad): https://youtu.be/GeisCvjwBMo
It Had to be You by Harry Conick Jr (jazz): https://youtu.be/_UnQOfPwZfs

Love Is the Most Ancient Law: A Blessing  — Jan Richardson
Open to it and you will know
how love is its own blessing
and most ancient of laws.
Pursue it entirely
with everything in you—
your heart (all)
your soul (all)
your mind (all).
Spend it all—
this love so generous
this love that goes out
to each it finds
this love that gives itself
in lavish and unimagined measure
everywhere and to all—
yourself not least.
Resources:
* Ahava / Love by the Bible Project (animated video): https://bibleproject.com/explore/video/ahavah-love/
* Agape / Love by the Bible Project (animated video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slyevQ1LW7A
AHAVA REFLECTIONS

The greatest commandment is to love God and the best way I know to love God is to love what God loves—which is everything! Surely this is the way that Jesus loves. To love as Jesus loves, we too must be connected to the Source of love. … If you don’t live from within your own center of connection and communion with God, you’ll go spinning around many other things. The true goal of all religion is to lead you back to the place where everything is one, to the experience of radical unity with all of humanity and all of creation, and hence to the experience of unity with God, who is the Great Includer of all else…  — Fr. Richard Rohr, Center for Action & Contemplation, https://cac.org/radical-simplicity-2020-06-29/

Love God. Love God with everything you are: heart, soul, strength. Love God with your life (perhaps a better translation than “soul,” since Israel didn’t conceive of a disembodied soul). Many scholars would say that “love” here is not primarily an emotion. They point to examples of political treaties known from the ancient Near East. To “love” one’s sovereign in these ancient political covenants was to be loyal to him … Such ancient political treaties are undoubtedly in the background of this passage. To “love” God as one would “love” a human sovereign entails primarily action, not emotion. To love is to be faithful and loyal in fulfilling the obligations of the covenant … Still, there is another realm of life in which the language of love and covenant abounds. The metaphor of marriage, though not as explicit in Deuteronomy as in other biblical books, provides a central biblical paradigm for understanding the relationship of God and Israel. —   Kathryn M. Schifferdecker, https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/revised-common-lectionary/ordinary-31-2/commentary-on-deuteronomy-61-9

The laws are made for us, not us for the laws… We do not serve a distant God, but one who actually cares about how you treat people and how you are treated. People matter. Relationships matter. The dignity of human beings matters. — Nadia Bolz-Weber

The ancient Hebrew word “ahava” that is often translated as “love” in the Bible has a unique meaning too.  Sadly, this amazing Hebrew word is hidden behind the nonchalant English term that everyone uses for everything. Love or “ahava” in the Hebraic mind is very different in today’s culture. In the Hebrew, love is connected directly with action and obedience. Strong’s Exhaustive Dictionary defines ahava as “to have affection, sexually or otherwise, love, like, to befriend, to be intimate.”  It brings to mind the idea of longing for or breathing for another. Hebraically ahava is a verb and a noun, it is an act of doing. Ahava is not just a feeling. To get a clear understanding of ahava, let’s examine the Hebrew word itself and learn how to love Hebraically. — Daniel Rendelman, https://myemail.constantcontact.com/Hebrew-Word-Study–Ahavah.html?soid=1101268607427&aid=aDzDQxelEmk

Ahava: This is Commitment Love. It is a ferocious love. We describe this as the, I’m-not-going anywhere kind of love. It is when you say, “I know that I’ll mess up, but you’ll still be there for me” kind of love.” It is not, “I will be with you for as long as you make me feel good, but once you are dull, mean, rude or old then see you later.” This is the primary kind of love that God has for his children. Ahava anchors you down to the one you love. — Charles Schuman, https://www.fortgordonnews.com/articles/true-definition-of-love-given-by-god/

Whereas other biblical nouns and verbs convey a particular type of love, such as ion (hesed) which often designates kindness and loyalty, or p^n (hesheq), which denotes desire or passion, nnx (ahv, verb) is employed in a wide variety of social, political, and spiritual contexts. Ahv and ahavah (noun) occur over 200 times in biblical narratives and poetry. They convey notions of attachment, passion, affection, preference, loyalty, and yearning. https://what-when-how.com/love-in-world-religions/ahavah/

Taken together the command to love God with all our heart, soul, and might seems clearly to encompass every aspect of our being as well as all of our exertions of energy. All of our lives, all of our identity. And all of our actions. All of who we are, our gifts, our capacities to act. And not just a portion, a slice. All. Every last capacity. No part of our lives is to be segmented apart from full devotion to God, to obey and follow His precepts. This is the path to the greatest blessing … God will not compel their love. True love requires choice. Coerced relationship is abuse. God is love. With the clear direction of what path is in their best interest, God provides freedom. Freedom is the ability to choose …
https://thebiblesays.com/commentary/deut/deut-6/deuteronomy-64-5/

One Today — Richard Blanco
One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.
My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper—
bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives—
to teach geometry, or ring-up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.
All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches
as mothers watch children slide into the day.
One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father’s cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.
The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind—our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.
Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across café tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello / shalom,
buon giorno / howdy / namaste / or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me—in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.
One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.
One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn’t give what you wanted.
We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always—home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country—all of us—
facing the stars
hope—a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it—together

AHAVA: Meditations on Holy Love & Human Love

Ahava Love is the risky, vulnerable, uninsured act of donatng what I prize most. Me. — Steven Daugherty

Love is unselfishly choosing for another’s good. — CS Lewis

The only way I know how to teach anyone to love God, and how I myself can love God, is to love what God loves, which is everything and everyone, including you and including me! — Fr. Richard Rohr

… according to Ahava, the woman described in Proverbs 31 is not some ideal that exists out there; she is present in each one of us when we do even the smallest things with valor. ― Rachel Held Evans

What was new and remarkable in the Bible was the idea that love, not just fairness, is the driving principle of the moral life. – Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

As we perform these acts of love, they form in us a new memory — not of our vulnerability or nostalgia, but of our capacity to act. These mitzvot of love will become, we hope, as familiar as our established mitzvot already are. They hold open the invitation, always, for depth, intention, and truth.— Joanna Samuels
le’ehov ze klum, lihiot ne’ehav ze mashehu, aval le’ehov velihiot ne’ehav ze hakol לאהוב זה כלום. להיות נאהב זה משהו. אבל לאהוב ולהיות נאהב זה הכל. To love is nothing. To be loved is something. But to love and be loved is everything. — Saying in Hebrew, unattributed

Most of us were taught that God would love us if and when we change. In fact, God loves you so that you can change. What empowers change, what makes you desirous of change is the experience of love. It is that inherent experience of love that becomes the engine of change. ― Fr  Richard Rohr
ahava hi kmo ruach, yi efshar lirot ota, akh nitan lehargish ota אהבה היא כמו רוח, אי אפשר לראות אותה, אך ניתן להרגיש אותה. Love is like the wind, you can’t see it, but you can feel it. — Saying in Hebrew, unattributed

We are made for goodness. We are made for love. We are made for friendliness. We are made for togetherness. We are made for all of the beautiful things that you and I know. We are made to tell the world that there are no outsiders. All are welcome: black, white, red, yellow, rich, poor, educated, not educated, male, female, gay, straight, all, all, all. We all belong to this family, this human family, God’s family. ― Archbishop Desmond Tutu

The first element of true love is loving kindness. The essence of loving kindness is being able to offer happiness. You can be the sunshine for another person. You can’t offer happiness until you have it for yourself. So build a home inside by accepting yourself and learning to love and heal yourself. Learn how to practice mindfulness in such a way that you can create moments of happiness and joy for your own nourishment. Then you have something to offer the other person. ― Thích Nhất Hạnh

Jesus has loved his followers so that they may love each other. Love calls for love in turn. Love makes love imperative. — Allen Dwight Callahan

And only when we see ourselves and others as Jesus’ friends is it possible to love with the heart of God. … then all other competing claims about who we are simply melt away. You are no longer male or female, Jew or Greek, gay or straight, urban or suburban, republican or democrat, rich or poor you are simply the one whom Jesus loves. You are the beloved disciple. You are the one whom Jesus has called friend. And this unchangeable and unassailable identity you have as the one whom Jesus loves is the basis by which you too are afforded the honor of being loved by others as Jesus’ Friend. For you are who Christ chose and named as such. And nothing else gets to tell you who you are. — Nadia Bolz-Weber

Every morning, my father and I would get up early and say the prayers. Today, when I say these prayers, I wonder how I could have said that then? It was hypocrisy. It was a lie to say there that our God is a God of mercy. There is a sentence, Ahava rabbah Ahavtainu, with great love You have loved us; what great love You have given us and You loved us, and Your compassion was not only great but excessive. There? Yet we said it. — Eli Wiesel, Night, holocaust survivor

We continue to live in a fractured world filled with sinat hinam (baseless hatred), which each of us has an individual responsibility to counter with ahavat hinam (baseless love). The first step to repairing the world is for more of us to re-imagine it, particularly in relating to the other. Through acceptance, respect, and love, we invite the other in to share a safe space where we can become our best selves together. — Rabbi Yehoshua Looks

… abounding with ahava and shalom, love and peace, and a year made complete by the purpose to serve one another in joy. — Rabbi Max Miller

Sometimes the love of God is 12 inches from being real, the distance from the head to the heart. — David Ivey

… When I came to the Buddhist article in that issue of Parabola, I was struck by how similar to ‘agape’ is the word ‘metta’ from the ancient Pali language of India. The author, the Buddhist monk, Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi, said the closest he could come to an English translation of ‘metta’ is ‘loving-kindness.’ … — Bob West

Christ’s message is one of pure love.  Loving for the sick, the poor, the oppressed that is what we are called to do … Christ has commanded us to show this love to every single human being on this planet.
… Our goal must be to, as Pope Francis has said, be a field hospital for those in a battle that rages all around us. The battle goes on in the form of war, famine, poverty, persecution, and it is our job to show the love of Christ to those afflicted. We are to walk alongside those who are walking down rough pathways in their lives…. Instead, we must have as a first goal to love and help each individual on earth …  — Devan, religion student, Emory and Henry College

I Did Think, Let’s Go About This Slowly
— Mary Oliver

I did think, let’s go about this slowly.

This is important. This should take

some really deep thought. We should take

small thoughtful steps.

But, bless us, we didn’t.

Advent Daily Devotional: Day 22 – Week of Love

Sunday, Dec 20 – DAY 22

Love glows bright as the focus of this week’s reflections. As we light our candles, we prepare to welcome holy love into our homes and lives.
            Can you imagine a love more determined than the one that chooses to show up in our messy and imperfect world? To be born human?
            It takes a stubborn love to move toward us, because we cannot ever quite reach that love itself. That is what our holy stories translate to us. Love chooses to be with us and among us in this season. And every day.
            The holy love narrated in our scriptures points toward agape. Agape is a love greater than ourselves. It is different than erotic or passionate love, larger and deeper than love for friends or family.
            Agape gives of itself. And part of that giving begins with movement. Holy love has turned to us and returned to us, chosen us over and over, meeting us where we are, coming to this world and time in which we live.
 — Rev Gail

But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love, answer me. — Psalm 69:13

Agape doesn’t love somebody because they’re worthy. Agape makes them worthy by the strength and power of its love. Agape doesn’t love somebody because they’re beautiful. Agape loves in such a way that it makes them beautiful. — Rob Bell

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