No doubt thanks in part to early Music Television (MTV), the song title “The Look of Love” for me refers to the 1982 lyrics and music by the English band ABC, though a number of other earlier and later songs also share that title. However, none of the so-named songs to me really fleshes-out what love looks like.
In the wake of Valentine’s Day this week, we might think love looks like lacey cards, red boxes of chocolates, and fragrant red (or yellow!) roses. The printers, confectioners, and florists in some sense have sold us a bill of goods! Of course, they and other capitalists are entitled to their profits, as I was to my percentage of them when waiting tables on February 14ths during graduate school.
These days I think love looks more like red blood dripping from a naked body hanging on a cross, God in human flesh dying for the sins of the whole world (including yours and mine), His love through His Word and Sacraments giving those who repent and believe in Him the forgiveness of sins and so also life and salvation, transforming them so that they in turn love others in the same self-sacrificial way.
From His cross, Jesus Christ looked in love on the soldiers who crucified Him, the repentant thief, and His mother and beloved disciple. Still today He looks in love on us, likewise praying, absolving, and providing His ministers to His Church and entrusting Her to their care, all for our spiritual profit.
Transformed by His love, we look in love on our neighbors, including those with whom we have the most-intimate relationships. As circumstances may necessitate, we have and hold our teenage sweetheart even when health has turned to sickness. We change the diapers of those who changed ours. And in some cases, we even care for someone who comes to us on the street, whether or not we can verify their story. Love may look different in different times and places, but it always starts with God’s loving us and ends with our loving others (1 John 4:7-21).
The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore. You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.pilgrimlc.org