The topic at church this morning was love. In the sermon, the pastor had a lot of good stories. He opened with a story about Will Durant, who tried to find happiness in learning, in travel, and in writing, and he ended up feeling unfulfilled and fatigued. But Durant learned that happiness could be found in relationships. The pastor also talked about Babe Ruth, who remarked that the people who had been most meaningful to him in his life were not famous. Babe Ruth mentioned an elderly pastor whose wisdom inspired him. The pastor’s point was that acknowledging the people who have helped us is itself an act of love. The pastor referred to a mother whose son married a woman she did not like, and she refused to see her son and her grand-kids on account of that. She was holding on to her resentment, but at what cost? And the pastor mentioned Eleanor Roosevelt, who was considered an ugly duckling and whose husband cheated on her, but she overcame evil with good as she became a humanitarian and championed civil rights before it was even popular.
In the children’s service, the pastor’s puppet, Jake, said that he had two friends who did not like each other, and he asked what those friends should do. One of the kids suggested that the friends meet face-to-face and hash out their problems with each other. And the pastor said that the friends could do nice things for each other.
And the Prayer of Confession was rather deep: “God of Mystery, we are constantly amazed by the depth of your love. Over and over again, You turn our expectations inside out and upside down. And still we don’t understand the radical nature of your grace. We play by our own rules of justice, even when it means excluding those we are called to love and defend.”
My reactions: (1.) Relationships can bring happiness, but they don’t necessarily in my case, since I find socializing to be difficult. Still, it’s good to know that people care for me, and I should care for others. (2.) I like hearing steps to love that even I can take, with all of my introversion—acknowledging those who have helped me in the past, trying to empathize with others and pursue justice for all, etc. (3.) I tend to be avoidant when it comes to conflict, for better or for worse. I don’t confront people. I also am reluctant to do something nice for someone who dislikes me and whom I dislike, since that seems rather phony, and the person who dislikes me recognizes it as phony. He may think that I’m doing my act of kindness to obligate him, in some manner. So why bother? Some people I prefer to, well, avoid!