Outside the church stand four doors, public art intended to engage the imagination of the wider community. Painted by the children of the church with lettering by a local art student, the four doors are intended to catch the attention of those driving and walking past. Together the doors say: ‘God’s Door is Always Open to Everyone’.
At the base of the fourth door is a blackboard with chalk with the invitation ‘share a prayer’. Each day people stop to write their prayers. Often the board becomes full and at the end of the day erased so that new prayers can be offered.
Yesterday, a few days prior to Christmas, I saw these words written by a passerby: ‘Only Love is Real’. This left me pondering, do I believe that to be true? Certainly evil is real. Certainly loss and pain are real. But is love different? Is love even more real?
A line from a hymn comes to mind: ‘Love Came Down at Christmas’. Christmas arrives each year to remind us that love made a home in the life of an infant named Jesus. My Christian tradition teaches that this infant was a gift to humankind from God. This infant would grow to show us what is real. He would grow to show us that love is more expansive than anything our human minds can possibly comprehend.
In time this bearer of love would confront an adversary that is also real, evil. Evil in Jesus’ time (as in our time) had and has many faces. For Jesus and his people evil took the form of a sociopath named King Herod and a seemingly all-powerful emperor called Caesar. We know the story. King Herod forced Jesus’ parents to flee with their baby and seek refuge in Egypt. Later when Jesus was age 33 the empire put him to death. So is evil more real than love?
The Jesus story tells us that the empire does not have the final word. On Easter life overcomes death, forgiveness overcomes hatred, love overcomes evil.
I agree with the writer on the church door: ‘Only Love is Real’. This will continue to be true as long as people like you and me do our part to make it so.
Centuries ago, Theresa of Avila wrote: “God has no hands on earth but our hands, no feet on earth but our feet, no heart on earth but our hearts.” To the extent that we believe this and live this, then the promise of Christmas continues. The story of God’s love coming into the world in human form remains true, incarnated in your life and mine.
It’s true: ‘Only Love is Real’. I wish you a very good Christmas. May you be both blessed and a blessing.