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  • Writer's picturePastor Liz

Rose are Red, Violets are Blue

At WildWood on Sunday my reflection notes didn't upload to my iPad. I scrambled for a minute to try to fix it, but finally had to accept that I was going to have to wing it. I think I did alright, but I do like what I wrote and so I'm sharing it written in the email and and audio recording on the blog this week as a little valentine for you. ❤︎

See you this Sunday for Glitter & Ash!

1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a  Love is patient, love is kind. Love is not jealous, It does not put on airs, and it is not snobbish. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not prone to anger, nor does it keep a record of wrongs. Love does not rejoice in what is wrong, but rejoices in the truth. There is no limit to love’s forbearance. There is not limit to live's trust, its hopes, its power to endure. Love never fails.

I think nearly every context I’ve heard this scripture it was directly or indirectly referencing a romantic relationship or at least a one-on-one relationship. Lu and I used it as part of our wedding vows too. These words are attributed to Paul who was an early follower of Jesus as the Christian movement was emerging. There were fledgling communities all over the region (often led by women!) and Paul offered encouragement and support through letters and occasional visits. This description of love is part of a letter, likely written sometime 40’s-60’s CE, to the community in Corinth a group of people trying to figure out how to live in this new community. They has likely written to Paul asking questions about ritual, practice, who should be in and who should be out, and just how exactly are we supposed to do this? Jesus’ instructions to love with heart, soul and mind, and “love your neighbor as yourself,” seem simple enough but we know several thousands of years latter it isn’t.

I think there is value in this guidance for how to love within intimate or individual relationships, but I think it’s far more powerful when it is embodied by whole communities. With Valentine's Day in mind, the red roses and chocolate kind of love almost seems easy compared to the love of and within, a community. Collectively embodying a love that challenges systems of power and oppression. Love of any kind is messy and risky. To love is vulnerable and so it’s inherently messy and risky.

Valentine's Day originated as the religious Feast Day for Saint Valentine. He was a 3rd-century priest who secretly performed weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry by the emperor. Roman Emperor Claudius II wanted to make sure his soldiers were focused and committed to the fight and feared they would get distracted by pining for their wives back home so he issued a decree outlawing marriage. Interestingly, it seems that there are at least 12 saints named Valentine, including a woman! But, the many stories were hard to verify and so the Roman Catholic Church removed Saint Valentine's feast day from its general calendar in 1969 leaving Hallmark in charge of future celebrations.

A very 2012 picture while the Senate voted on the bill.

In an act of true romanticism, on February 13, 2012 Washington Governor, Christine Gregoire, signed the bill extending marriage equality to same-sex couples. Whether or not she did it intentionally, within the crowd packed in the signing room and spilling into the hallways the romanticism and love was effervescent. I stood in the hallway, just outside the doors, I couldn’t really see anything but that didn’t matter. Being there, witnessing the decades of work from advocates, some of whom are friends, was the biggest valentine I could ever imagine. 

Marriage equality didn’t go into effect until later that year. It was (of course) challenged by opponents and Referendum 74 was on the November ballot. Ref. 74 was overturned and marriage equality became law with 54% popular support. It went into effect at midnight on December 5 and couples around the state said marriage vows at 12:01 am.

A couple years later at an auction supporting Pizza Klatch, an organization supporting queer youth, our friends had the winning bid on one of the ceremonial bills from the bill signing and gifted it to Lu and me. It’s signed by the governor, and several of the legislators and advocates for the bill. A valentine that hangs on our wall above a wedding photograph.

Roses are Red,

Violets are Blue,

Love is patient,

and love is kind.

Love in community is love in action,

challenging systems of oppression.

Ok, so maybe it won't work on a Hallmark card, but love in action and embodied in community is the love that will transform the world.

I'm so glad we get to do love together.


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