Dear Church Inquirer:
DEAN KRISTER STENDAHL of fond memory, once Lutheran Bishop of Sweden, the greater part of his life and work Dean of Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge and teacher of New Testament, said many times to churches and clergy!—“No use of the word ‘love’ unless it is in the Bible text you are using. “Love” had become the catch-word churches and Christians fell back upon describing what Christianity is---“love, love, love”—we had “love children”, “love feasts”, even “love churches”. Dean Stendahl would say cheapened by soft familiarity and overuse. It had become an escape route when believers could not otherwise give any Christian belief or behavior description in detail. Christians do (or SHOULD) love one another; and “they will know we are Christians by our love” but exactly what that would prove out to be, in detail, was not always clear. So, the beloved (whoops the good Dean might cast a wary eyebrow my way!) Dean Stendahl counseled stop using the word unless the Bible instructed doing so.
I wonder if in our day, 2021, a reconsideration is in order. Yes, we love our children, but love our work? Love our community? Love our spouses, partners? Love even our church?! And say so, tell them so?! Maybe. My hearing is suspect but I think I will register the absence anyway.
Of course it is possible to be superficial, thoughtlessly repetitive. We also have become a bit cool in our expressions of affection, not to say commitment. So, this Valentine’s Day, this year of our Lord 2021, tell someone “I love you”, tell them again, Tell Them Again! If you want details look up chapter 13 of I Corinthians in the Bible. Better still, look to the faithfulness you have provided, the thoughtful words, the affectionate touch. Instead of a card this year (sorry Hallmark) specifically look at your special someone and with great detail say it, “I love you.”
And do it while you can; tomorrow is too late.