[Updated Feb 29 9:19pm] As we gathered in worship this morning, we were blessed to have Curtisoffering guest ministry.  Of course, Curtis isn’t really a guest, because he, Lou and their family are part of OUR family.  Still, we loved having him share just the same.  Speaking of LOVE, what a better theme is there for Valentine’s Day?  Curtis used four songs to explore our relationship with God…both God’s love for us and our love for God.  Here is a summary of Curtis’ message:

Theological Considerations on Lyric Expressions of Post-Modern Romanticism, vis-à-vis the Human Endeavor to Relate with Divine Agape.

Can love songs inform our relationship with God?

Know that ever about you stands the reality of love, and each moment you have the power to transform your world by what you have learned.   Richard Bach. Messiah’s Handbook: Reminders for the Advanced Soul

4 kinds of love in Scripture.
• Eros, love felt in the body.
• Philio, love felt in friendships – root of Philadelphia and philanthropy.
• Storge – or, familial – love felt for family or among community.
• Agape is usually referred to as the highest form.

Agape: The love of God for humankind. The Thayer Lexicon describes agape beautifully when it says “to take pleasure in the thing, prize it above all other things, be unwilling to abandon it or do without it.”

My purpose: to invite and/or engage using different filters: hearing with different ears, and using that different kind of input in understanding both God and Self. The dimensions of God’s love deserve (require?) every means and effort we have, in order to fully appreciate the gift.

• Who can say “God Loves Me”?
• Who can say “I Love God”?
• Who can say why that (all too often, in my case) unlikely relationship works?

John Denver (with Placido Domingo) – “Perhaps Love” (The song can be heard below) 

Perhaps love is like a resting place
A shelter from the storm
It exists to give you comfort
It is there to keep you warm
And in those times of trouble
When you are most alone
The memory of love will bring you home

Perhaps love is like a window
Perhaps an open door
It invites you to come closer
It wants to show you more
And even if you lose yourself
And don’t know what to do
The memory of love will see you through

Oh, love to some is like a cloud
To some as strong as steel
For some a way of living
For some a way to feel
And some say love is holding on
And some say letting go
And some say love is everything
And some say they don’t know

Perhaps love is like the ocean
Full of conflict, full of pain
Like a fire when it’s cold outside
Or thunder when it rains
If I should live forever
And all my dreams come true
My memories of love will be of you

And some say love is holding on
And some say letting go
And some say love is everything
And some say they don’t know

Perhaps love is like the ocean
Full of conflict, full of pain
Like a fire when it’s cold outside
Or thunder when it rains
If I should live forever
And all my dreams come true
My memories of love will be of you.

Perhaps” – I like that word. It suggests a pretty strong case for what is true, while leaving room for those times when it just seems too good to be true. All those “perhaps’ about love? Every one on target.

–      “Perhaps Love” by John Denver

John Legend – “All of Me” (The song can be heard below) 

What would I do without your smart mouth
Drawing me in, and you kicking me out
You got my head spinning, no kidding, I can’t pin you down
What’s going on in that beautiful mind
I’m on your magical mystery ride
And I’m so dizzy, don’t know what hit me, but I’ll be alright

[Bridge]
My head’s underwater
But I’m breathing fine
You’re crazy and I’m out of my mind

How many times do I have to tell you
Even when you’re crying you’re beautiful too
The world is beating you down, I’m around through every mood
You’re my downfall, you’re my muse
My worst distraction, my rhythm and blues
I can’t stop singing, it’s ringing in my head for you

[Bridge]
Cards on the table, we’re both showing hearts
Risking it all though it’s hard

[Chorus]
‘Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you
You’re my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I’m winning
Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you, oh

The weird memory that came to me was of doing dishes with Dad. Sometimes he’d put a dish in the rinse that wasn’t quite clean yet. Of all the things I remember in life, I remember thinking the words, “It doesn’t matter. He’s my Dad and I love him.”

That aside, think about your significant other. They likely fell in love with you (instead of being in like with you) BECAUSE of your difference: your quirks: your particular interests: the way you stand out.

Ever heard it said, “nobody’s perfect”? Does anybody really think God doesn’t know that? I think “Perfect Imperfections” is an elegant and glorious description of how my Creator regards me.

–      “All of Me” by John Legend

Lisa Kelly – “The Blessing” (The song can be heard below) 

In the morning when you rise
I bless the sun, I bless the skies
I bless your lips, I bless your eyes
My blessing goes with you

In the nighttime when you sleep
Oh I bless you while a watch I keep
As you lie in slumber deep
My blessing goes with you

This is my prayer for you
There for you, ever true
Each, every day for you
In everything you do

And when you come to me
And hold me close to you
I bless you
And you bless me, too

When your weary heart is tired
If the world would leave you uninspired
When nothing more of love’s desired (Is it okay to be angry at God? Need permission? Of course!
Loving relationships use space when there’s conflict: they don’t dispose of the relationship.)
My blessing goes with you

When the storms of life are strong
When you’re wounded, when you don’t belong
When you no longer hear my song
My blessing goes with you

This is my prayer for you
There for you, ever true
Each, every day for you
In everything you do

And when you come to me
And hold me close to you
I bless you
And you bless me, too

I bless you
And you bless me, too

(okay…I often just like to pretend Lisa Kelly is singing to me):

It seems to me, a worthy goal to arrive at a relationship place (perhaps periodically) where the union of God and Self appears indistinguishable. A Humanity/Divinity Mashup of sorts. This one speaks to me that way: it’s interesting to consider how it’s hard to tell who’s blessing who. (Full disclosure, I struggle with “bless God” terminology. To me God is the author of blessing, and it simply remains hard for me to cross that self-imposed line).

For a guy my age, if it’s a love song, it has to be Karen Carpenter.

Richard Carpenter said of this last song that it was his sister’s favorite to sing of all their music. This one may not be as well known to some. It’s offered here for your “practice” time. Hear (and see) the words, and try to imagine if this were a person wondering about their relationship with the One who created them.

Or, just accept it as a gift of love.

I have nothing more to say, except to encourage you to use new ears: new filters. And let your Creator love you.

–      “The Blessing” by Lisa Kelly of Celtic Woman

Carpenters – “I Need to Be In Love” (The song can be heard below) 

The hardest thing I’ve ever done
Is keep believing
There’s someone in this crazy world for me
The way that people come and go thru temporary lives
My chance could come and I might never know

I used to say “No promises,
Let’s keep it simple”
But freedom only helps you say good-bye
It took a while for me to learn
That nothin’ comes for free
The price I’ve paid is high enough for me

(*) I know I need to be in love
I know I’ve wasted too much time
I know I ask perfection of
A quite imperfect world
And fool enough to think that’s what I’ll find

So here I am with pockets full
Of good intentions
But none of them will comfort me tonight
I’m wide awake at four a.m.
Without a friend in sight
Hanging on a hope but I’m alright

–      “I Need to Be in Love” by Karen Carpenter