Learning How to Love
In his fantastic book, You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, Jamie Smith tells of two stonemasons who were asked what they were doing. The first responded, “I am cutting this stone into a perfectly square shape.” The second responded, “I am building a cathedral.”
In the Christian year, the season of Lent is when we remember that for all the seemingly mundane tasks that life and faith demand, we are nonetheless building a cathedral—or rather, we are revealing a Kingdom.
It is in this season of journeying toward the cross when we remind ourselves of the grander story of which we are a part: the gospel story. A story of reconciliation, transformation, and “open futures.” A story of God’s Kingdom being revealed in the world most completely through Christ, but also—and not inconsequentially—through us, so far as we follow in Christ’s way.
Our lives as individuals, families, and as a church move in so many different directions and at such a pace that we can lose sight of this vision. Over these 40 days of Lent, we will slow down and focus our attention on reclaiming this grander purpose for our lives and our life together. We will do so under the theme of “Learning How to Love.”
As I said on Sunday, in one sense, to love is the most natural thing in the world. In another sense, it takes discipline and practice to learn how to love the right things rightly. For a Christian, this has to do with loving the things that Jesus loved; precisely what we mean by discipleship. And while we certainly always have reason to be pay close attention to this way of love, it seems there is a special need in these times.
Just this afternoon I met with my friend Adam Fofana, the leader of the Islamic Center of Central Georgia in Centerville. I had reached out to him over these past few weeks to offer my support and prayers for him and his congregation, knowing that many Muslims around the country have felt increasingly unwelcome. He thanked me when we met today, and shared that this sign of support had been especially meaningful. Just this past week a group of men came to his house at 5am, throwing eggs at his car and intimidating his family. Last Friday as their congregation gathered for services, a car sped through their parking lost, screeching its wheels in an act of intimidation.
When he told me these things—his voice shake ever so slightly—and when I saw the look on his face as he did, my heart sank. But my resolve was strengthened.
How is it that we are called to love in these times—specifically? What kingdom do we seek and claim is revealed among us? By what virtues is it known? What cathedral are we building, I wonder.
I hope you’ll join us over these 40 days as we journey once again with Jesus to the cross; with each step, learning how to love.