February 14, 2017: A love so fierce

Posted on : Feb 14th, 2017 | By | Category: Still Speaking

We’re in an awkward place today in that Valentine, who was sainted by the Roman Catholic Church in the 3rd century could be one of three different persons named Valentine. All of them were martyred – that is executed for their faith. Not very romantic, I know. But worse yet, in 1969, “Saint” Valentine got removed from the official Roman Catholic calendar of “Saint’s days.” What is now known of these boys suggests that they were more into debauchery than love. If you’re interested, go to your favorite search engine and start learning about the rather grotesque and gruesome traditions that led up to our fanciful day of cupid, red hearts and romantic love.

All of which brings me to the point of today’s message. Romantic love can be wonderful or gravely disappointing. If you want to ponder the real meaning of love, think about a Mother bear and her cubs. That’s fierce love. And, as Matt Fitzgerald so lovingly suggests in this week’s devotional, God’s fierce love for us has more enduring value than most Valentine’s Day celebrations; plus, it’s free and offered to everyone: single or coupled.

Happy Day of fierce love, friends!






A Love So Fierce It Cancelled School
Matt Fitzgerald

“I saw the Holy One sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of God’s robe filled the temple.” – Isaiah 6:1

Each spring bears would come rumbling through our neighborhood to forage through the trash. One April morning when I was in high school the telephone rang. It was still dark outside. It was the police on the line. “Don’t leave your house. Don’t go to work. Don’t go to school. There is a bear cub in your neighbor’s tree. The mother is nearby. Step outside and she’ll come running.”

What does God look like? God looks like a love so fierce it cancels school. A love so intense it stops bankers from heading to the bank, stops lawyers from going to court, keeps builders off the job-site and the wait staff from the restaurant. The whole neighborhood froze, stopped at dawn; we could do nothing but wonder at a mother who redefined the day with her devotion.

In 1962, theologian Gabriel Vahanian bemoaned the fact that contemporary Christians let modernity define God for us. Assuming God must exist within the limits of the possible, “what remains of [God] in the . . . imagination of those who wait for God is a caricature of God’s tamed majesty.” Content with a half-measure, we’ve foreclosed upon the prospect of intense splendor or unsettling wonder.

Do you want to know if you’ve actually encountered God? You need some criterion, an example of what life looks like when Christ steps in, a picture of what happens when the glory of God intrudes upon the everyday. That mother bear is mine. What’s yours?

O God, give us eyes to see your majesty. Amen.

Matt Fitzgerald is the Senior Pastor of St. Pauls United Church of Christ in Chicago. He is the host of “Preachers on Preaching,” a weekly podcast sponsored by The Christian Century.



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