January 24, 2019
February. Valentine’s Day. Love is in the air this month. And love is what God is all about.
One of the books that has influenced my faith is a book on the Holy Trinity entitled God for Us: The Trinity and Christian Life by Catherine Mowry LaCugna (New York: HarperCollins, Publishers, 1991). If you are like most Protestants, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity probably is not something you think about a lot. And yet the Church proclaims the Holy Trinity as an essential doctrine. We confess nearly every Sunday that we believe in One God in Three Persons. So what does the Holy Trinity mean for Christian life?
First of all, LaCugna says, “God’s ultimate reality cannot be located in substance (what it is in itself), but only in . . . what God is toward another. . . . Only in communion can God be what God is, and only in communion can God be at all.” (p. 260) In other words, we do not have a God that sits out there (wherever “there” is), but a God who exists in three persons, in relationship, in communion with each other and with the created world. LaCugna continues, “. . . a God who would be essentially unrelated, self-contained, self-focused - is incompatible with the Jewish experience of the God of the Covenant, and the Christian experience of the God of Jesus Christ. The doctrine of the Trinity emerged in the assertion that God is essential relational.” (p. 289) English translation: relationship is at the heart of what God is.
“Second, love is constituative of God’s being . . . Since love produces communion among persons, love causes God to be what God is.” (p. 261) Again, love is the nature of God.
We humans are made, according to Genesis, in the image of God, the icon of God. We were created to image God to the whole world. We were created to love.
The other good news is that God forgives me when I make mistakes or don't have quite enough courage or just am not ready to go where God wants me to go. God's love continues to surround me. God loves me! What good news that is! I don't need self-help because I have God's help. Therefore I can love my current self and the self that God is making me into. That's why I am a Lutheran Christian.
So on Valentine’s Day rejoice in love. Buy flowers and candy. Take those you love to dinner. Rejoice, for God is love.
A Note about THE DAY: According to legend, Valentine was a priest in Rome who was martyred by the Emperor Claudius II around 269 AD. The link between this man and romantic love is pretty tenuous - no real stories until around 1400. Around that time, someone wrote that the emperor forbade marriage because he wanted a bunch of single men in his army and Valentine secretly married people. There’s also a legend that he cured the jailer’s daughter of blindness and later fell in love with her (priests could marry at that time). Before his death, he supposedly wrote her a letter and signed it “from your Valentine.” Whatever the historical facts are, it’s a fun day. Enjoy!