Celebrating those places where the beauty, strength and goodness that is within each person has a chance to come out.
“What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of…”
– Paul Anka
This song might sound corny 30 years after it was originally recorded, but it’s true.
Love is compelling.
Love is transforming.
Love is possible.
Love is hard.
Love is what the world needs.
Jesus embodied love. His message, his ministry, his death, his resurrection all point toward challenging his followers to emulate love. I always say the world does not need more division, death, or “knowledge.” It needs more love.
And we can be active participants in creating it. Not later, not once we gain more skills or training, not once our kids are out of the house, not once we get that next promotion, not once we have more time, not once we are less afraid.
I think we are called to participate in cultivating the Kingdom of God in the here and now by nurturing what I call “little pockets of love.”
To me, Christians are called to create a space of love for one another in a wide variety of contexts. Eye-to-eye, face-to-face, heart-to-heart and life-to-life. People knit together on the journey, somehow committed to living, growing, learning, eating, trying and loving together.
My working definition of church is: “People gathered together in some way, shape, or form to learn and practice the ways of Jesus and pass on love, hope, mercy, justice, and healing in a broken, weird world.”
I love that there are many different expressions of “church” and deeply hope we can all play our part in small and big ways to reclaim this beautiful word that has been stripped of its original meaning and come to mean sitting in a room listening to someone talk and singing some songs.
I believe people are the church and we can live out our faith in diverse ways. It supersedes language and isn’t limited by our definitions nor by the type of gathering, experience, or context. When I am with another person cultivating little pockets of love, it is “church.”
Throughout the years I have been transformed through little pockets of love. Very little happened for me in big venues or places where everyone was just like me or where I could easily hide. The places where people called out what was deep within me, stuck with me even when I wanted to run away, pointed me toward God’s real heart for me, and challenged me to pass it on—-those are the places where I seemed to learn the most.
There are many different expressions of pockets of love beyond the ones I’ve been part of at my little faith community, The Refuge, or in other small, intimate and challenging groups. They are in houses, pubs, the streets, AA meetings, homeless shelters, prisons, schools, traditional churches, workplaces, social clubs, neighborhood gatherings, and a score of other places around the world.
Pockets of love are places where the gospel can be lived out through hearts in action, where Christ’s light can shine into the darkest of places, truth can be spoken, hope can be borrowed, and food can be shared.
Self-hatred, self-doubt, insecurity, depression, disconnectedness and loneliness plague so many, yet we often haven’t created spaces that help shift these damaging patterns. At the heart of God’s mission is the restoration of people. But unless we actually create a space where people can emerge from their wounds, doubts, fears and failures, it is doubtful they will ever discover that love.
If we look at the life of Jesus, it’s hard to imagine the church would be anything other than a diverse scattering of little pockets of love—places where the beauty, strength, and goodness that is within each person has a chance to come out. Where God and man somehow intersect in mysterious, supernatural ways. Where Jesus-in-the-flesh is alive and well, calling out hope, forgiveness, purpose, passion and love.
Little pockets of love don’t happen magically.
It requires much intention, grace and endurance to nurture little pockets of love.
My guess that many of you reading are doing this in all kinds of beautiful ways–cultivating “with” relationships, gathering people together in different creative ways and creating containers for love. You may not even realize it. You may minimize what you are doing, thinking it’s not organized enough, successful enough, big enough or good enough.
Don’t minimize it. A little love goes a long way. Little pockets of love–safe spaces for people to feel and experience the love of God– are transforming because Jesus is being reflected there through people.
God, help us bravely cultivate little pockets of love in all kinds of shapes and sizes.
We’d love to hear your thoughts:
- Where have you recently experienced a “little pocket of love?”
Kathy Escobar co-pastors The Refuge, an eclectic faith community in North Denver dedicated to those on the margins of life and faith. She blogs regularly about life and faith at www.kathyescobar.com and just released a new book called, Down We Go–Living out the Wild Ways of Jesus in Action. She lives in Arvada, Colorado with her husband, Jose, and five kids.
Image credit: Compassion International, by Kevin Rohr