God loves each of us – Time for agape

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Humanity has a tendency to focus on differences. Tall, short, skinny, stout, or different in skin color, we are all equal in human dignity. God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit see each one of us through Their lens of love. God created us for love – agape. His desire for each of us is to love one another, with this love often being demonstrated in the simplest ways. It is time to make the first move.

This is My commandment: love one another as I love you (Jn 15:12).

A Saturday trip to the Farmer’s Market brings with it an opportunity to mix with people of varying levels of energy and diverse backgrounds and histories. This hot July morning is no different. The market, nestled in the shade of oak trees and tents, brings a certain vibrancy and openness to it that relaxes people as they gather. Walking from the SUV as a warm, humid breeze rustles the shade trees, the man and his wife breathe in the rich aroma of a wide variety of foods, kolaches, Jamaican jerk, hamburgers, cakes, and more. Typical Southern marketing – feed them and they will come. 

Walking through the eclectic gathering, the man has an opportunity to observe the friendly interactions of all involved. Young and expectant couples chase after their small children as they laugh and run with joy. A young couple, with arm sleeve tattoos of Our Lady of Guadelupe, hold hands and sway to the sound of their headphones as they enjoy fresh Ruston peaches. An African American family, laughing together, recline on a blanket eating hot kolaches. The man reflects as he observes. Given the high tensions between people these days, it is a blessing to see everyone mix and mingle with freedom and joy – and why shouldn’t they? It is the way it should be.

The goal of the trip to the Farmer’s Market this week is to visit friends who have started a family farm, buy some produce, and sign up for a membership in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Both the man and his wife and their friends agree that they should support local small businesses, especially those of the local farmers. The couple with the family farm and their seven children grow all the produce themselves and work their own fields. One of the latter’s young sons has also started a farm fresh egg business. The two couples stand under the shade of a tent, catching up on lost time and hearing how all their children are progressing through life – 13 children in all between the two families. They could have talked for hours. Life is good, thinks the man.

Saying goodbye to the friends, the man and his wife turn to stand in the shade of the majestic oak trees. They watch, they listen, and they observe. Both of them think that given the right environment, people can be kind and generous to each other.

Grabbing her husband’s hand, the wife asks, “Are you hungry? It’s going to be lunch time soon.”

The man replies, “I’m not too hungry yet, but we can get something if you want.”

“I really want to try something from the Jamaican food truck. It smells so good,” she declares.

Smiling, he agrees and says, “Sounds good to me. I love Jamaican food.”

The fresh scent of jerk chicken and pork is calling out to both of them.

Stepping up to the large silver food truck, the man and his wife look at the menu. Right behind them in line is an African American man in his mid-twenties, with a disabled right arm. He smiles at the couple as he steps in behind them.

The man’s wife takes care of ordering: “We want two jerk plates, one chicken and one pork.”

The Jamaican who owns the food truck replies in a strong accent, “That’ll work, ma’am. I can mix the chicken and pork if you like?”

The wife responds, “That’s perfect, thank you.” And turning to the man, she continues, “I’m going to talk to the people at the grass-fed beef table. Can you get the food?”

“Sure, I’ll come get you when I’m done,” replies the man as he returns to observing what is going on around him and enjoying the heavy aroma of good cooking in the air. Over his shoulder, the man hears the young African American in line ask a question.

“Have you eaten his food before?”

Turning to answer, the man can see the broad smile and friendly demeanor of the young man.

He replies, “The Jamaican truck? No, this is my first time. Is it good?”

With exuberance, the young man comes back with, “Oh, he’s the best! I’ll stop and order from him whenever I see his truck.”

Laughing, the man says, “That’s awesome! Where are you from?”

Shaking his head, the young African American states, “I’m from Abbeville. What about you?”

The two men stand in the body heat of a summer breeze for the next 15 minutes, while sharing personal histories about where they had grown up, their families, their work, and how life has been good to them. In the end, the young man pulls out pictures of his wife and newborn girl.

The man looks at the picture of the younger man’s daughter and declares, “She’s beautiful!”

Beaming from the compliment, the young dad replies with a simple, “Thank you.”

Looking the younger man in the eye, the man comments, “Keep them close, my friend. You’re blessed.”

And the young African American heartily agrees.

“Yes, I’m blessed,” he says. “God is good.”

Together, they declare, “Yes, He is all of the time.”

And right about that time, the man can hear his number being called for his order.

Reaching and shaking the left hand of the younger man as he departs, the man says, “Hey, thank you for taking the time to talk to me. It was good talking to you.”

Shaking the man’s hand in return, the younger man replies, “You too. Y’all enjoy your jerk chicken and pork.”

Walking away, the man cannot help but think This is the way it should always be.

God is good.

Love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor (Rm 12:10).