Lenten Meditation: Love is the Way


The following excerpts are from the book Love is the Way by the Right Reverend Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church.


Religion/Theology

Religion, at its best, is not an old cobweb-filled attic called tradition, and it’s not “the way we’ve always done it.” It’s a treasure chest of wisdom gleaned from human beings who have dared, as the Bible says of someone called Enoch, to walk with God.


The theologian Karl Barth once suggested that the way to do theology was with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. This seemed similar: The Bible could guide me only if it was in conversation with real life.


Love

God may be the source of love, but people are often the vessels. Once you understand that, you also start to understand that connecting to the Holy Spirit isn’t about what we say in our house of worship on a Sunday. It’s the community of love we create for ourselves and for others. When that happens, God’s there. That’s God showing up. We’re resting in God’s hands. Love is meant to saturate all levels of human living and existence, because the God who gave us life is love. And as the saying goes, “Everybody is God’s somebody.”


The more we listen to love - let us guide us through life - the faster we find that sweet spot, that intersection where out deep gladness and the world’s great hunger meet and walk the path of love together.


Grief

Understanding that love never ends does not erase grief. The prayer book introduces the liturgy of the dead by reminding us that even Jesus wept at this friend/s grave. Joy and grief coexist. As well, that love the New Testament says “never ends” is also described in the Hebrew as “strong as death.” I’ve begun to see how that is true; we will always grieve those we love when they are no longer living. And yet the love we humans experience, as powerful and durable as it is, is only a faint reflection of God’s love, which is eternal, the source of all love and loves. And that is the love that welcomes and embraces those we love when this mortal life is over.


Rituals of faith

The late Senator John McCain spoke about how prayer got him through imprisonment in Vietnam. As a kid, he had gone to Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia. The priests led the kids through morning prayers every single day. He said the prayers then because he had to. And yet, when he was stuck in that cell, staring at four walls, with no way of knowing what misery the days and weeks and months ahead held, he started every day with prayer. It kept him going. He rested in God’s hands.


Reworking anger

My challenge was learning how to receive anger and not give it back in return. I needed to do something very difficult: to stand and kneel at the same time. I needed to stand in my conviction, laying out what I believed and why. And when the response was anger, I needed to learn to kneel before it. Believe me, standing in self-righteousness is so much easier. But when you’re facing someone else who feels as strongly in their conviction as you do, anger is totally unproductive. Actually, it’s counterproductive. You’ve got to create space for the other person.


Martin Luther King Junior’s Commandments of Nonviolence

“Martin Luther King understood the discipline was required. He asked those who marched alongside him to sign cards that committed them to the 10 Commandments of non-violence.… Numbers one through nine were reminders of the spiritual principles that king believed would help people stay grounded in the non-violent way of love.”


“1. Meditate daily on the teachings and life of Jesus.”

“2. Remember always that the non-violent movement seeks justice and reconciliation--not victory.”

“3. Walk and talk in the manner of love, for God is love. Makes the dream real by enacting it.”

“4. Pray daily to be used by God in order that all men might be free.”

“5. Sacrifice personal wishes in order of that all men might be free.”

“6. Observe with both friend and foe the ordinary rules of courtesy.”

“7. Take care to perform regular service for others and for the world.”

“8. Refrain from the violence of fist, tongue, or heart.“

“9. Strive to be in good spiritual and Bodily health.”


“Imagine, if you will, the impact of each and every person on this planet taking the time to define and then live out loving principles. In fact, imagine 50% of everybody doing this, and being successful even half the time. Politics, business, and commerce, religious life, and community would be transformed.”


from Curry, Bishop Michael and Grace, Sara; Love is the Way: holding on to hope in troubling times, New York: Avery, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC, 2020, pages 91-92.