It's valentines day weekend and the world seems to be fixated on the big glorious celebration of love, although as a single woman I find it hard to presently connect with the romantic notions of man and woman delighting in each other and the personal desire I have for this, I can connect with a love that echo's more "place," than feeling. Love is a strange word when it comes down to it and as always I am particularly drawn to finding the first time that the word is mentioned in the Biblical text. This way of reading scripture can be very helpful when it comes to understanding a God-shaped notion of a word or concept. It's fruit usage. Seeing its first use in context gives the reader the opportunity to understand a characteristic of the word that can help us build well from it's foundation.
Interestingly love is first used in Genesis in the story of Adam and…..nope. Not Adam and Eve! Actually, it is used in the story of Abraham and Isaac, a father and son relationship, and in fact a father and son relationship that came with a huge promise and a seemingly horrendous predicament. As you may know from the story in Genesis 17, Abraham and Sarah had been barren, but in their "old age" they were told they would have a son. God had promised this to them as soon as they started hearing His voice; however, the journey to this moment of having their one and only son, Isaac, involved many twists and turns and, of course, like any good story involving humans, a deep need to try and solve the problem themselves. Fast forward to Genesis 22 when their son was probably more like a young man, and Abraham was asked to offer Isaac on an alter. As a side note I am choosing to use the word "offer" over "sacrifice" as the root of the Hebrew is more connected with offering something in order to draw near (to God). And vice versa, for God to draw near to us. You see, Isaac was the promise, the future, the dream of Abraham. God had given him so many visions in real time about the future and the promise, and that it would be abundant. Now here in Genesis 22 God asks Abraham to offer that future in the flesh, frame and promise that is Isaac.
In Genesis 22 v 2 it says: " Take your son, your only son, who you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah (God is my teacher), and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you" There it is, the word LOVE.
Shifting gears slightly in todays blog I want to circle back round to where I started. This past weekend I sat with my Nanna on her bed. She had been awake in the night with a bad dream. Here I was on valentines weekend with my precious Nanna, my mum's mum, and it echoed the felt experience of generational love. A place of story and sharing. A place of vulnerability and the power of presence. A place that was more than just a feeling and felt more like a song. We chatted about a lot of things this valentines weekend. We spoke about fear, slowly turning this word to awe as we spoke about space and the universe and this little blue planet in the midst of it all. We talked about the fear of dying and the deep reality that we will always be connected because thats just the way that God designed it. I wept a little as I shared the promise of God, the promise of connection, grace, death, life and resurrection. You see, to me love is more than a feeling, it is a place, and maybe even "space," as my Nanna describes and stands in awe of.
We are placed within space and are taught love. That is why when this God designed experience is so distorted and abused we can burn with such an anger it hurts. Love is more than just a feeling, it is a felt experience, a verb in story, person, place. It is a way of seeing and being in a future that is yet to unfold while holding the hand of your Nan as she speaks about things she is afraid of, while receiving the love of the moment. Love is a light in the darkness and a garden that welcomes you with open arms. Love, love, love. I am grateful and undone.
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