But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. – Luke 6:35

February starts Lent, a season to pay attention to your relationship with Jesus. It is often called a season of repentance and preparation. Many think of it as a time of harshness or at least seriousness and it is. We think most often of giving things up, of fasting, of thinking about sin. We sing slower songs, we don’t say or sing alleluia often in Lent. But this year because of the coincidence that Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day, we are reminded that to repent is to love.

Repent means to “Turn back” or “Turn around” in Latin. It is to point one’s face in a new direction with resolute determination and love. Luke 9: 51-54 says that when the time came for Jesus to begin his passion and death, that he set his face towards Jerusalem. Jesus shows us God’s love for us in his passion, death, and resurrection. And it is a choice, a Life-giving choice. He chose to love us, for how can love be true if not freely given? He asks the same of us. Love God and choose God. Repent and return to God’s Ways.

That all seems good to us in 2018 — after all, we know the end of the story. We know that God loves us. We know that we are going to Heaven. What if, however, to repent, to truly love is not just about us saying, “I’m sorry God!”

. . . What if to accept Jesus is to be like Jesus. What if love is a choice to love those who do not love you back, just as Jesus did when he set His face to Jerusalem. What if loving someone is not about the gushing feelings or the butterflies in your heart; not about the rewards of being loved back or the physical and emotional pleasure of love. St. Valentine’s Day is not about gifts or romantic notions or love affairs. It is about God’s love that we share with one another.

What if the choice to love means what Jesus said a few chapters earlier in Luke’s telling—“Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.” What if to love is to take a risk, to turn your face to someone even if they never turn to you? That is what God did. It was not for a reward or for a good standing that Jesus showed His passion and love for us. To love us brought joy and pain, suffering and Life. To Love as Jesus does is about the very nature of God more than anything God or Jesus will ever get in return. And we are called to love like that!

This Lent, think about how you love. How do you show the Love of God in Christ to those around you. How do you do good for those who are your enemy. How do you lend money, time, and talents, show kindness and care, offer concern and nurturance to those you consider enemies? Strangers? Unworthy? This is the true measure of love and repentance. This is the Way Jesus would have us go. So turn your face to Jerusalem and show some Love!

- Pastor Tim