Weekly Devotion for September 4, 2023
By Sue D'Alessio
For What? Why?
Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)
On my recent vacation, camping in my cozy two-person tent, I decided to practice experiencing the presence of God in every moment possible. I do this regularly each day, yet wanted to focus on this more intentionally and consciously – really seeing, fully listening, noticing, keeping aware, feeling with all my senses open to the moment. I discerned several lessons in this awareness practice:
- It wasn’t easy to remain aware (at least for me) for long periods of time without being distracted by my wandering mind.
- Regularly I was overwhelmed with the surprises of the wildly lavish extravagance of the world all around: a flower blossoming in the middle of nowhere – for what? why?; a bird trilling wildly lavish extravagant melodies with no apparent reason – for what? why?; water burbling over rocks in a brook wildly lavishly extravagantly filled with moss and wader bugs and tiny fish – for what? why? Thunderstorms and hot sun and uncountable stars and gently wafting breezes wildly lavish beyond-this-world extravagance – for what? why? My interpretation? For love. God’s wild, lavish extravagant love. For the joy and grace of love.
- Kids climbing rocks, hiking, riding bikes and scooters, running, leaping with abandon, and shouting in the delight of exploration and discovery. Love.
- People of all shapes and sizes and ages hiking, arguing, laughing, singing, sitting around campfires, being typical humans in all our varied and intriguing manifestations. Love.
- Even in the mundane, unaware, unthinking times when I neglected to pay attention to being aware. Love.
God’s love infuses the world with life and ecstasy. We are God’s people, called, invited, enticed to live in, abide in, and allow God’s love to flow through us. The more we open to this awareness, the more love is present in our lives. The more we are open to seeing and beholding this love in others (holding on intently and intentionally), the more this love blossoms and unfolds in our relationships.
For skeptics reading this – yes, there is struggle and evil and hurt (adultery, murder, theft, coveting, for instance) in this world. We are a broken, hurt, and hurting people and world. We need grace, forgiveness, and hope. We do. I do. We all do. We need to work together for healing and justice and care for one another, to end violence and prejudice and inequity and environmental destruction. Yet these are even more reasons why it is vital for us to open more fully and tenaciously to the greater awareness of and living into God’s love. It is the fulfilling of the mission of human life which Jesus lived and taught us – for what? why? For love. God’s wild, lavish extravagant love. For the joy and grace of love.
God of life and love, in this time of changing seasons, as people return to school, as we remember and celebrate all people who contribute their lives in work on this Labor Day, as we begin the time of the church year of Sunday School and fall programming and ministries, we thank you for all the ways you guide us. In all these times, in all the ways we serve others in your name, may we be known as people who love fully and heartily. May your love shine and live (wildly, lavishly, extravagantly) through us. We pray in the name of the one who taught us how to love, Jesus Christ. Amen.