By: Cindy Gregorson
You might have been introduced to Bishop Michael Curry at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. His preaching was electrifying, and it was all about the power of love to change the world.
This past year has revealed how fractured we are as a nation. There have been many small acts of generosity to be sure, and the service of our health care and front-line workers has been astounding. And yet, the overall narrative has been one of enemy: you against me, cancel culture. Are you tired of it? I know I am. We have been short on grace, compassion, and kindness. I long for a world where we take the time to not just talk at one another, but truly listen to each other, see each other, and remember that we are all beautiful, beloved children of God worthy of love and belonging. We treat each other with respect, build each other up, and work together because this is how we not only survive, but thrive—as a family, a community, a nation, and a world.
Do you remember that old song, “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love?” Love is our way. For God so loved the world that God gave the fullness of who God was and is, God became human, so that we would know love and discover that this is the way to life for all people. This is not only the gift we have been given, but it is our calling. As the apostle Paul says in Colossians, “Wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment.”
Wear love. Breathe love. This is what the world needs more than ever: people who know the height and breadth and depth of love, and because of that, choose love as the way they live. If we want a different world, it starts with us and how we love. For our Lenten study this year, we have chosen Bishop Michael Curry’s book “Love is the Way: Holding on to Hope in Troubling Times.” Yes, he is an Episcopal bishop, but that is our spiritual home as Methodists because John and Charles Wesley were Anglican priests (the Anglican church became the Episcopal church when it came to the U.S.) In each chapter, Bishop Curry—through his practical theology and storytelling from his own life experience—answers a question you might be asking about love: How do I find God’s love? Do I have to love my enemy? Can love really change the world?
For six weeks, we will journey together in this way of love. We will cover two chapters a week, and each week will be introduced with a video from a member of our Appointive Cabinet. We will also post a small group discussion guide for the week. If your congregation is not organizing small groups around this study, then we invite you to ask a couple of friends to read with you and to meet virtually once a week to talk about the book and how you are putting love into action in your life.
One person at a time, living the way of love, becomes a movement. This is what the Jesus movement looks like. Or, to put it in reverse, as Bishop Curry said: “If it doesn’t look like love, if it doesn’t look like Jesus of Nazareth, it can’t be claimed as Christian.” Because how do you know a Christian? By their love! Looking forward to a loving Lent with you as we lean into “Love Is the Way.”
Here’s a schedule of what you can expect and when each video will be released (click here to access the Lenten study web page containing all videos and study guides):
Feb. 4: Introduction with Rev. Cindy Gregorson and Jody Thone
Feb. 11: Chapters 1&2 with Rev. Laurie Kantonen
Feb. 18: Chapters 3&4 with Rev. Fred Vanderwerf
Feb. 25: Chapters 5&6 with Rev. Cynthia Williams
March 4: Chapters 7&8 with Rev. Dan Johnson
March 11: Chapters 9&10 with Rev. Susan Nienaber
March 18: Chapters 11&12 with Rev. Ben Ingebretson
Rev. Cindy Gregorson is director of ministries for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church