Sunday, February 18, 2018

Love is the Goal

Homily on Ash Wednesday at St. Thomas' Church, Bath.

           Lent begins with these words [from the Collect of the Day]:  “You hate nothing you have made.”

           Why not say, “You love everything you have made”?

           I think it is because love is something we must always grow into.  That God hates nothing he has made is a bottom-line belief.  It is a starting point.

           Love is the goal, and love is the journey toward the goal.  Lent is a time to renew ourselves in this journey.  Anything we do during this season—be it giving something up or taking something on—must serve this purpose:  to deepen our experience of the love of God for us.

           Today we begin this journey by reminding ourselves of the obstacles in the road.  It all sounds very negative, but we are simply acknowledging the realities of our journey.

           In the words of the Collect, we “acknowledge our wretchedness.”  That sounds harsh, perhaps unnecessarily so.  I like to think of it simply as our capacity to mess things up.

           And we are also asked to stare our own death in the face:  to dust we shall return.  This is not a pleasant thing to do, but we cannot deny it.  It is a reality of this journey of ours.

           The wonder of life with God is that although both of these things are true—our capacity to mess up and the inevitability of our death—it is the love of God that we can put our trust in, and seek to live ever more deeply into it.

           It is not easy. There is so much going on around us and within us to distract us from living in this love, and even from believing it could be possible.  If it were easy we would not need this season.

           Remember the song, “Searching for love in all the wrong places”?  This is our task from now to Easter, to search for love in all the right places, so that when Easter comes, we may celebrate the resurrection, grounded a little more deeply in the amazement—the wonder—that we are loved in spite of everything.

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