The Salem Tidings

From the Pastor’s Desk


 Note from Pastor Paola:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
(1 Corinthians 13:1-4)
The apostle Paul didn’t write these words as a poem to be read in happy times such as weddings. He wrote them in the midst of difficult times of uncertainty, changes, conflicts and dissensions. He was challenging the church in Corinth to keep at the center of their lives what counts the most: Love. Love is what God asks of us. Love is what matters. Love is the reason why Jesus came among us and  gave his life on the cross.
These words speak loudly today as we live in a time that is, in many ways, similar to the Corinthians. From our own family dynamics all the way throughout our country and world, we live in a challenging time of uncertainty and conflicts exacerbated by over a year in a pandemic. Fear and uncertainty are very hard on us and lead us to inward looking, being absorbed by our own worries and interests. Yet, this way brings us only more brokenness and loss.
The way out, the way of a new beginning, is the way of love. If I do not have love, I have nothing. On the other hand, if I have nothing, but I add to it love, then I have everything in God’s eyes. I know the word love is overused and seems to have become a cliché. Love is not primarily a feeling. Although it certainly will involve feelings, it is not primarily desire. It is not primarily closeness. It is not mainly being agreeable or doing what you want me to do. Jesus understood love as a God-powered condition of being in which I want the best for everybody I come in contact with.
In fact, this kind of love, agape love, where I want the best for others, will express itself very differently depending on the condition of the person I’m with. If somebody is hungry, and I love them with this love, I’ll try to feed them. If somebody is lonely, and I love them with this kind of love, I’ll try to connect with them and listen to them. If somebody is discouraged, and I love them with this kind of love, I’ll cheer them on and encourage them. Genuine love seeks to be helpful according to the other person’s needs, not according to my natural preference.
Imagine what our lives, our families, our country, and this world would look like if we love others this way?
It really begins with me
Pastor Paola