What is Love? – A Poem

What is Love?
By Nichole Henry at age 16

What is Love?
Love is the strongest-
The most confusing feeling.

One moment I am elated to the highest point in the heavens,
My joy reaching to the very edges of the galaxy.
The next I am lying in bed,
Too stunned, hurt and sad even to cry.
I vow to give love up,
Then crumble at the next hint of its promise
I surrender to its power
Then cower in a corner when it turns its back on me.

I lose a friend and swear I’ll never have another-
Acquaintances are enough.
Then I blink and I have a friend
A real, perfect, loving friendship-
And I can already see signs of its end.
I see people I never wanted to see again
And hold tightly to the ones I have left,
Even as they slip through my fingers.

I turn around
And see more people standing there,
Covered in the hint of a promise.
I turn away,
Run as fast as I can in the opposite direction.
I won’t go through that pain again.
I can’t go through that pain again.

I glance over my shoulder to see how much distance I’ve gained,
And when I see no one,
Relief threatens to envelop me.
I stumble and fall.
A hand reaches out of the darkness to help me,
And as I grasp it gratefully I can see the people I was running from,
Surrounding me and caring for me,
Loving me.

I wonder,
Is it possible to escape love’s vicious cycle?
Is there anything I can do.
And then I remember
Why this earthly love has always failed,
Why it always breaks its promises
Why it never lasts.
I wonder why it took me so long.

I remember the stories I was taught
Of the day sin and death entered the world.
How sin coats everything,
Fills everything,
Consumes everything,
Controls everything,
Destroys everything.
Of course this love always ends!

We are sinful beings
Our love is a sinful love.
It is a selfish love,
A dependent love,
An ending love,
A betraying love.
I fall to my knees crushed under the awful reality-
If my love is sinful then it will always fail.

Every time-
With no exceptions.
I wonder if anywhere there is a perfect love
A love that never dies,
Never leaves,
Never ends.
And then I remember the One who’s Name is Love.

He never changes,
He always has been
And always will be.
His name is the Keeper of Promises,
Gracious Father,
Savior of an evil people.
And He offers perfect love-
For nothing.

I wonder what took me so long to remember
My Creator and Savior,
My Redeemer and Friend.
I turn to the One
Who’s perfect love casts out all fear,

Who is always ready to forgive,
Who’s love is unchanging and unyielding
Before my utter unfaithfulness.

I remember how His love conquered death,
And consequently how death cannot end His love.
I look to Love
And find ever-flowing,
Never ending,
Never changing,
Pure, full, perfect

And I change.
My love can also be perfect.
I need no longer fear to love,
For I have been bought by the Perfect Love,
The Love of Christ Jesus my Lord.
And nothing-
No one,
Can snatch me out of love’s Hands.

May I Invite You?

I have never enjoyed Easter as a pastor.  For those who have attended my church this is not shocking as I tend to not like most any holiday.  But how can I not enjoy Easter?  This was a discussion I had last Easter with my son-in-law, Matt Miller.  It was at my house after the service and he had just thanked me for my message.  I believe I just shook my head and said that I did not enjoy the sermon at all as I preached it.  I explained that it always felt forced, like I “had” to do a resurrection sermon every Easter and how it was a struggle to make it fresh.  That’s when, without meaning to, he rebuked me.  He commented on how he did not think I needed to be fresh, that there was true value in repetition of certain things.

That is when he uttered a word I had never heard before, “Tenebrae,” which is Latin for darkness or shadows.  Turns out that he attended a Tenebrae service at his seminary on Good Friday.  He spoke of how it left a deep impact on his mind, how leaving the service with everyone else in total silence and how leaving it with one thought on his mind, Jesus was dead, weighed heavily on his thoughts leading up the Easter Sunday.  Then on Sunday he gathered with Missio Dei and rejoiced with everyone over Jesus’ resurrection.

And with that, a decision was made in my mind and then confirmed by the other elders that we would have a Tenebrae Service this year.  I want to invite all to come and remember the crucifixion of our Lord.  I want you to bring your children so that they can see and hear that sobering event played out.  It will be slightly less than one hour of Scripture readings and singing.  It will be interactive and serious.

And then come back on Sunday with the anticipation of our Lord who is not dead!  No, He is alive and in that resurrection defeated our great enemy, death.


Roses Have Thorns, But Not Always

Even in laughter the heart may be in pain, And the end of joy may be grief. (Proverbs 14:13)

In the lobby of my church a sudden outburst of laughing will pound through my office walls.  At times I will look out just to see what is so funny.  And it is funny, what I see.  There may be two or maybe ten who are all enjoying a good story or the end of some tease.  But I know these people.  There is the one who is still recovering from surgery and has burdens for her family and their faith.  There is the one whose spouse is a broken person who brings so many burdens into the home and lives of the family.  There is that person whose job is currently up in the air and the reality of the unknown is upon him.  I see the parents laughing who has a wayward child and they are very concerned.

If I wanted to stop any of that laughter all I would need to do is pull one of them aside and inquire as to how is the situation, the burden.  Laughing eyes will reflect the burden and pain that is just below the surface.  Tears or anguished faces will appear and a softer, heavier voice will speak.

For all of us there are times of great laughter that hide the pain we suffer within.  It is the reality of living in this broken, sinful age.  We will hold in our arms a small baby and be filled with joy never knowing that the end will be grief.  We will walk down an aisle to marry only for the end to be grief.  We will start out our life in college and in the end is grief.

We must never forget that many things in this life bring joy.  And we can enjoy them as such.  But like the thorns of the rose so too do all things bringing joy.  So we hold things that belong to this age lightly.  Rejoicing in the times of joy and weeping with those who weep in grief.  We gather together on Sunday to hold up fists of rebellion to the gods of this age as we declare by faith that God the Father “. . . raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1:20-21)

Jesus tells us that we will never taste the fullness of death, called the second death, if our hope is in Him alone.  Peter tells us we are kept safe by God’s power so that even if we have grief and sorrow we shall never be lost.  Paul tells us that by the great love of our heavenly Father we were forgiven and raised up with Jesus Christ in the heavenly places all because we are in union with His Son.

I need to remember this more each day.

And so do you.

This is a cross post from www.matthenry.wordpress.com