And the Greatest of These...

by Mary Johnson, Director of Childrens Ministries & All Things Bright and Beautiful

Everyone knows (or should know) how to finish this statement. And the fact that this is the title of my February Dove article is pretty much a giveaway. So why is it that this month, when there is the recognition of St. Valentine's Day, there so much attention given to love. The word love is in the New Revised Standard version of the Bible a total of 538 times. So isn't this a year-round concept? And shouldn't it be?

One of the most profound statements about love that I have heard did not come in a great novel or memorable love song. It was said to me at the end of this past December, as we came up to Children's Chapel after lighting the last candle on the Advent wreath. The first three candles are lit as we sing about hope, peace, and joy. We light the last candle for love: "One bright candle for love. He brings love to every heart. He comes."

As we entered the chapel, a second grade boy said to me: "The most important candle is love. Because with love you get hope, peace and joy." Just as simple and exquisitely put as that! Because if you look at the dictionary definition of the first three, then the only conclusion is exactly as Holden stated it: with love, you get all three:

            Hope - to desire with expectation of obtainment
            Peace - a state of tranquility or quiet
            Joy - a feeling of great happiness

So whether you celebrate this Valentine's Day with one of the 145 million cards that are purchased annually (not including the classroom Valentines), play (or sing) one of the Beatles songs (they used the word love 613 times), spend the national average of $73.00 on flowers, $220.00 on jewelry, or $23 on candy, please remember Holden's observation about love: "With love you get hope, peace, and joy." You can't wrap, wear, or put in a vase any of these. And THAT, in my opinion, is the definition of love!

      "Let us always meet each other with a smile, for a smile is the beginning of love."
                                                                                                       Mother Theresa