I am writing this on the morning of Valentine’s Day.  On the early morning news programs, there are reports about the number of bouquets and how much chocolate will be sold today.   Later today, I will participate as a couple celebrates their anniversary with a renewal of their wedding vows. With love celebrated all around, my mind turns to the puritan preacher, Richard Baxter (1615-1691).  Rev. Baxter wrote and preached a LONG sermon entitled “The Mutual Duties of Husbands and Wives Towards Each Other” in which he shares such directives as:

Be not too hasty, but know beforehand all the imperfections which may tempt you to despise your future mate.

 

Don’t stir up the evil of your spouse, but cause the best in them to be lived out.

 

Consider also that you are not living up to the design of marriage, if you are not helping each other’s souls.

 

And:

 

Choose a good spouse in the first place.  A spouse who is truly good and kind.  Full of virtue and holiness to the Lord.

 

Rev. Baxter may not sound romantic in the way of roses and bonbons, but he has a point.  Relationships based solely on dopamine highs are almost impossible to maintain over years of life’s ups and downs.  Choose a good one to start with.

 

Another thought about love concerns our Child Development Center… Approximately $2,000.00 was raised by the Valentines’ Dinner and Dance and Silent Auction to replace the carpet with hard flooring in the rooms where the toddlers and little ones are on the floor so often, providing a much more hygienic environment.  Thank you.

 

Taking care of others has been a bedrock of Methodism since the beginning, when our founder, John Wesley, made it his business to visit in hospitals and prisons and slums, working to bring education and better living conditions.  As he understood it and teaches us even now, all people are created in the image of God and belong to God, and we are commanded to love one another. Furthermore, Jesus speaks of feeding, visiting, clothing and caring for others.

 

Starting next weekend, how we exist as Methodists will be examined by a specially called General Conference.  864 delegates from all over world will come together to vote on plans concerning human sexuality and the UMC. There are 16 delegates from South Carolina, 8 clergy and 8 laity.  Over the past few days, I have seen 6 of our delegates and they approach this task seriously, thoughtfully and prayerfully.

 

None of the plans, as far as I know, changes the declaration that “all people are of sacred worth,” but each one outlines how we might live into our future.    An overview of those plans may be found here. http://s3.amazonaws.com/Website_Properties_UGC/learn/documents/GC2019-Plan-comparison.pdf

 

None of these is perfect and none will satisfy everyone.  The best we can do is pray that God’s will be done and stay the course of loving one another as God has loved us.  So we will pray and we will keep on with the tasks that Christ himself set before us:

 

Feed my sheep.  Tend my lambs. Feed the hungry. Visit the sick, imprisoned and oppressed.  Clothe the naked. Protect and teach and love.

 

Faithfully,

Pastor Scarlett