Through Love Alone

Every once in a while, I read a poem that just hits differently.  

In my devotional reading the other day, I encountered a poem for the Season of Epiphany by Gian Carlo Menotti that I had to share.  

This poem encapsulates so much of what many people get wrong about the Christian faith, specifically Jesus himself.  

Christianity has become a parody of itself in the public eye of late.  It doesn't resemble the Way of Christ outlined in the Gospels- a way marked by love, suffering, and sacrifice for the sake of the world. 

Instead, the dominant forms of Christianity that seem to make the most noise seem to favor a version of the faith characterized by winning, triumphant theology, exclusivity, individualism, and politics that lean hard toward theocracy. 

This is not the Jesus we see in the Gospels.  What we see is beautifully captured by Menotti in the following poem: 
Love Alone

The Child we seek
doesn't need our gold. 
On love, on love alone
he will build his kingdom. 
His pierced hand will hold no scepter, 
his haloed head will wear no crown; 
his might will not be built 
on your toil. 
Swifter than lightning 
he will soon walk among us. 
He will bring us new life
and receive our death, 
and the keys to his city 
belong to the poor.  

You might sum this poem up with these words:  Christ has come. Christ has died. Christ is risen.  Christ will come again. 

And there is more embedded in the lovely words that Menotti uses to describe the nature of Christ and what his coming means to us and all of Creation.  

There is no triumphant theology here, save for the way the words speak to a new world and a new life where those on the outside find open doors to the inside, and the only way to find this new life is by losing our own. 

It's easy to see why so many Christians chafe at the idea that love alone will bring God's kingdom.  

We're accustomed to winning and losing, and the "side" that is most often depicted as winning within the Christian faith is draped in an American flag and kneeling on the necks of their enemies. 

If that seems provocative to you, then all you need to do is peruse the inter-webs and social media to watch countless videos of preachers and self-proclaimed Christians espousing that very thing. 

No matter our political bent, this should pause us all.  The signs and symbols of our faith aren't a raised fist or a flag.  The signs and symbols of our faith are a manger, a cross, and an empty tomb.  

We follow a Savior who didn't arrive in triumph but entered into history a helpless child, born in a cave to homeless parents, who would eventually become refugees in a foreign land with their young son to escape oppression.

We follow a Savior who spent his ministry healing, speaking words of peace, reaching out to the marginalized, restoring outcasts, calling the religious elites and powerful out on their hypocrisy, and then demonstrating what true love looks like by taking on the worst the world has to offer and rising above it. 

We follow a Savior who didn't spark an armed revolution.  We follow a Savior who came in peace, forgave his enemies, and laid down his life for his friends.  

What charades itself as Christianity in our current culture has gone so far afield that it no longer resembles the movement that began with Jesus of Nazareth all those two thousand years ago.  

It is through love alone that God brings God's kingdom. 

And it is through love alone that we have the power to join God in this good work through the Spirit of the Christ, who is our guide and example. 

May it be so for all of us, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all, now and forever. Amen. 


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