Wednesday, February 15, 2012

In the aftermath of St. Valentine's Day - 1 John 4:9 with a story and an observation

SCRIPTURE: 1 John 4:9
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him."

On May 2, 1962, a dramatic advertisement appeared in the San Francisco Examiner: "I don't want my husband to die in the gas chamber for a crime he did not commit. I will therefore offer my services for 10 years as a cook, maid, or housekeeper to any leading attorney who will defend him and bring about his vindication."

One of San Francisco's greatest attorneys, Vincent Hallinan, read or heard about the ad and contacted Gladys Kidd, who had placed it. Her husband, Robert Lee Kidd, was about to be tried for the slaying of an elderly antique dealer. Kidd's fingerprints had been found on a bloodstained ornate sword in the victim's shop. During the trial, Hallinan proved that the antique dealer had not been killed by the sword, and that Kidd's fingerprints and blood on the sword got there because Kidd had once toyed with it while playfully dueling with a friend when they were both out shopping. The jury, after 11 hours, found Kidd to be not guilty. Attorney Hallinan refused Gladys Kidd's offer of 10 years' servitude.

To what lengths will any individual go in the name of love to prove a point. We have just celebrated St. Valentine’s Day. The stores will overrun with individuals purchasing boxes of chocolates, flowers, greeting cards, huge heart shaped balloons, cakes, cookies, and probably some intimate bedroom attire all in the name of love or what they understand love to be.

In this mornings newspaper was a story of a husband who gave his wife a kidney. The papers are quick to pick up on stories of such nature. They are the feel-good stories that we all like to read. They lift our spirit and to some degree inspire us. But that could be expected since they are husband and wife. There is an understanding of commitment growing out of the love they share with each other.

But what about a deeper love … a selfless, self-sacrificing kind of love ... the kind of love that we see in and through Jesus Christ? Would we buy flowers for a stranger? Would we give someone that we did not know one of our kidneys? The challenge for me every St. Valentine’s Day is not how am I going to express my love for my spouse of 46-years, my two beautiful daughters and their dynamic hard working husbands nor my two great grandchildren. Those decisions are easy. The real challenge is how am I going to express my love to the strangers I meet on the street or in the checkout line at Wal-Mart or the hallways at various locations.

God was willing to sacrifice his son for us when were not even worthy of his love. As Max Lucado shares in his book, And The Angels Were Silent, “God will do what it takes – whatever it takes – to bring his children home.” Which raises a deeper question for us, are we willing to do what it takes to let those around us, including the stranger in our midst, to know that someone loves them? Maybe we should make every day St. Valentine’s Day to remind us that we are meant to be instruments … channels of God’s love.

Holy Father, it is so easy for us to speak about love, but oh so difficult to put it into actual practice. Guide us today to make it a reality in all that we do and say. Amen.

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