A Season of love?
I was talking with a Cathedral member a while ago. He told me that if the church is to have something to focus at for a new season, it should be love.
Love!? That really got me thinking.
Isn’t love something that is timeless and should mark the very heart of the life of the Church? Do we need to declare “2016: A year of love”? As an example, it will be strange for a clinic to declare, “2016: A year to help the sick to recover.” We normally do not say what is already naturally assumed when you see a church, clinic or school.
And so, that suggestion caught me by surprise. But should I be?
One Sunday, as I was touring the ground, an exasperated Singaporean (not sure she was a church member) came up to me and complained about the many foreigners on our ground on Sundays. She used the word “infestation” a few times. I thought that is a word reserved for rats, cockroaches and other troublesome insects. She expected me to share in her disgust (I should add that I do suffer from katsaridaphobia!). I was wearing my collar and returned a rather vicar-ly smile, “Eh? Sister, why is that a problem?” She was surprised that I was surprised by her remarks. Instead, I was surprised that she was surprised. We momentarily stared blankly at each other, co-surprised as fellow Singaporeans, but in our worldviews, it cannot be more different.
This is xenophobia. I don’t condemn or judge her. I only felt a deep sense of grief that even with all our education and supposed civility here in Singapore, some have not learnt to love beyond the familiar. It is a frightening thought, but the same seed attitude lies behind all the genocides in our world, including some terrible ones just in the last century. The “us and they” is a terrible barrier that needs crossing. In fact the “love of us” with the exclusion of “they” is not love at all. Pause to think about this.
If anything, the strange circumstances around the birth of Jesus reminds us again that God crossed many barriers to show us His love and equally, to show us how to love. To love like God, we need to come out of our tribal tendencies. As Paul has said, “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” (Colossians 3:11)
Maybe the suggestion by this brother for a “season of love” is not a ridiculous idea after all. Maybe there are indeed tribal tendencies and some even within the community itself (Singaporeans vs Singaporeans!) as we find security only with those we are familiar with.
Perhaps we can never talk too much about love. Ask God to teach us how to love like He does, how to love the way a human should, how to love the other.