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Vol. 79 - No. 2
February 2008

WORD FROM THE PASTOR:             

A Valentine for Jesus        

The January 28 issue of Time magazine carries a cover story on "The Science of Romance."
The story is basically about the chemical and biological factors that cause people to fall in love. The
part of the story that really captured my attention was a questionnaire called "The Thermometer of
Love", which was designed to measure the intensity of one person’s feelings for another.

                It occurred to me that it would be interesting to use this questionnaire about human love and
use it to reflect on our relationship with God.
This isn’t as far-out as it may sound–because in the
Bible, God’s relationship with His people is often compared to a husband/wife relationship. For
instance, God says to the people of Israel:

                I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and
                justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will take you for my wife in faithfulness,
                and you shall know the Lord. (Hosea 2:19-20)

                Martin Luther picks up this theme and gives it an interesting twist: he says that if Christ is the husband
and the church is His wife, then there must be "community property" between them. Our property
becomes Christ’s, and His becomes ours. And what is our property? Sin! He makes our sins His own
on the cross–and in return, He gives us His property–righteousness, holiness, beauty!

                So the Christian tradition affirms a real similarity between our relationship with God and the
relationship between spouses. This prompted my interest in applying the "Temperature of Love"
survey to our love for God. Let’s try it. In these statements, you’re supposed to fill in the blanks with
the name of your beloved–let’s try filling the blank with "God".

                I would feel despair if ____________ left me. Absolutely! In the Christian faith, being "left"
by God is, quite literally, hell. The Psalmist experiences a taste of such hell as he cries out:

                My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Psalm 22:1)

                That is a heart-rending cry of despair. But I know that God will not abandon me. On the cross, Jesus
experienced abandonment–He cried out this words, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
That means that Jesus has tasted the hellish rejection and abandonment by God that our sins deserve.
So if we are united to Jesus, we will never be abandoned by God.

                I feel happy when I am doing something for _____________. It is a joyful thing to serve
God and work for God!

                I yearn to know all about ________. As Christians, we want to grow ever closer to God.
We can never know Him completely–that’s why heaven will not be "boring". There’s a song called
"Getting to Know You" from The King and I–and that song captures our relationship with God. We
will be "getting to know" Him forever!

                __________ always seems to be on my mind. We want to remember God always. Brief,
continual prayers throughout the day are a great way of doing this.

                I want ____________ to know me–my fears, my desires, my hopes. The Bible talks about
God "searching our hearts". He knows the deepest part of ourselves. He knows our fears, our desires,
our hopes.

                I get extremely depressed when things don’t go right in my relationship with __________.
Things are always going haywire in our relationship with God–because we are sinners. But the joyful
thing is that, instead of sinking into sadness and melancholy, we can go to Him and seek forgiveness
for our sins through the blood of Christ.

                Some of the "Temperature" questions don’t really apply to our relationship with God–"I’d
get jealous if I thought ___________ was falling in love with someone else" doesn’t really fit. But
it is amazing at the correlations you can find between our love for God and human love.

                This month brings both Valentine’s Day and the beginning of Lent. It’s a time for celebrating
human love...and a time for remembering God’s love. As we send a Valentine heart to a special
person, let’s give a heart to Jesus, too. Not a heart of paper and lace...but our true hearts, our love and
our devotion. After all, in His death and resurrection, He has opened His heart of love to us!

                God loves you and so do I!

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