Agape is a Noun and a Verb

Hedge Heart
Close-up of a heart-shaped hole in a hedge with the view through it of a lighter green field blurred. Image courtesy of Bianca via Pixabay.

To love without condition is a challenge. To live in that love is responding to God's call for the whole of Creation.

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This reflection is prescheduled to post while I am on vacation.

During our summer sermon series, we explored the I Am Statements in John’s Gospel and how we could more fully embody them. Thinking about this now, the word, “Agape,” comes to mind – the unconditional, limitless, infinite love God has for the whole of Creation. It’s the kind of love we should endeavor to share and to live in.

Here’s the poem I wrote as a definition of Agape in Barefoot Theology: A Dictionary for Pilgrims, Priests, and Poets.

God loves without condition
remaining steadfast when people choose
anything and everything else to worship
God waits for each one of us
without ever giving up

Jesus walked this world and spoke of peace
reaching out to the unreachable
healing the untouchable
opening the eyes of those blind
to holy ways

When the world could tolerate
this Love Incarnate no longer
the man was crucified
so that we might live more fully
knowing God’s unconditional love for us
revealing the Christ in humanity
making us all equal when seen
through Sacred eyes

To speak words of love is not enough
our call is to live in the Word of Love
recognize the value bestowed on us
by the One whose breath we breathe
in whose likeness we are made

Let us set aside all our conditions,
rules, and regulations
we think keep us safe
yet only mask our fears and hide us
from ourselves and our neighbors
let us step into the arms patiently
waiting for us
arms wide enough
to embrace the world

God thinks you and I are worthy
of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection

May this truth startle us into living
Love without conditions
well beyond our usual limits

About Rachael Keefe

Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ. She was called to Living Table in 2015 after serving in many varied ministry settings since her ordination in 1992. She holds graduate degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and Andover Newton Seminary at Yale (formerly Andover Newton Theological School). Her ministry and leadership often center around advocacy and accessibility. Her writing has been published by Chalice Press, The Christian Century, Red Letter Christians, Working Preacher, RevGalBlogPals, and others. She is grateful to be in ministry with Living Table today.

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