Ash Wednesday is On Valentine’s Day: What Oh What Will We Do?

According to scripture, God’s love life is complicated.  God is always getting God’s heart broke.  God falls in love with all the wrong people.  His choice in partners is horrible.  You should see some of the people God brings home.  I’m all for loving who you want to love.  However, God knows how to pick real losers.

Granted, the relationships begin for the right reasons.  At the beginning there’s always hope, ecstasy, the promise of a future, and delight in one another’s company.  Eventually, the people God loves fall out of love; often as quickly and as easily as they fell into love.  God puts everything on the line for people who never appreciate how God loves them.  Valentine’s Day, this season of mushy love and Romantic self-interest, is hard on God.

First there was Adam and Eve, Abraham, and Moses.  Three relationships that sputtered through the desert until one appeared to work.  I really thought the thing with Moses was going to click.  God loved Moses and Moses loved God.  God even called Moses’ tribe “my people”.  God adopted, claimed, and cared for Moses and his extended family.  You know the story of Moses and their suffering.  It broke God’s heart.  God hated to see the people he loved brutalized and destroyed by Pharaoh’s inhuman actions.  Before Moses could ask, God acted; not because God hated Pharaoh but because God loved Moses’ people.  “Love is a powerful thing”, said Huey Lewis.  “It makes another man weep and another man sing.”  Moses did both.  With God, Moses led the people from Egypt to a new home.

Egypt was barely in the distance when God got the call from the Israelites.  “It’s not you, it’s us.  This thing we have is not really working out.  We want a cow god who feeds us.  You’re not really as hot as we thought.”   They broke up.  God was devastated.  “What did I do wrong?” he asked Moses.

Moses said, “You know them, they’re fickle.”

“Should I kill them?” asked God.

God was very angry.

It went on like this for years.  On again, off again, we love God, we don’t love God.  Each time, God would take them back.  The people would say, “This time we promise, we’ve learned our lesson.  We love you and we’ll never leave.”  It’s one of the most dysfunctional love relationships in human history.  In fact, it’s so bad, people called prophets (the therapists of that time) documented the back and forth love affair between God and the people.  Yes, God knows all about love; flawed, ugly, well beyond the honeymoon love.

Here’s what hasn’t changed: God keeps picking the wrong people.

Eventually God fell in love with me.  I am the wrong kind of person.   I’m a sinner.  Despite my protestations, he loved me anyway.  I’ve broken God’s heart on numerous occasions.  God keeps taking me back.  I don’t know why.  I’ve stopped asking.  We’re happy in our dysfunction.  God loves me.  I love God.  I’ve never found my suitcase on the curb of the church and a restraining order from heaven delivered by the deputy.  We fight like cats and dogs.  I yell and scream Biblical inconsistencies, sometimes I curse, and then we make up.  There’s not much else to it.  What can I say, I’m in love!

What are we doing for Valentine’s Day?  God and I are going to church.  I’m going to preach something really deep about mortality.  What did you think I was going to do, talk about love?  Please, I’m no cultural holiday sell-out.

Richard Bryant

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