My first job was working for the Borough of Emmaus. On the second day of summer break in 1986 my dad came home and asked me if I wanted a job. I was 16. I had spent one day home that summer and I was bored. I worked primarily in the sign department. This taught me much about making street signs, repairing street signs, replacing street signs, and swinging a sledgehammer from the top of a tipped up dump truck in order to set a street sign pole (but that’s a story for another day).
My early jobs taught me much about the work I do today. Lesson #3 at Shoemaker Elementary School cleaning every room, every surface, every light bulb in the school—always carry a screwdriver. It makes you look like you have something to do. Why else would you have a screwdriver? Lesson #18 at Denny’s in Chambersburg—bacon can be fried in the deep fryer when someone wants it ‘extra crispy’. Lessons #1-∞ at Camp Hope—just be with people.
At Edgeboro, the former pastor loved to visit. Warren loved to visit his old church. He could sit in the office and talk and talk and talk. He would talk to Jane, he would talk to me, if my door wasn’t closed, he would talk to anyone who entered. A visit from Warren wrecked an hour, but also gave life to him and anyone in the office.
One day, Warren told me the secret to ministry. He said, “Kerry, just love ‘em. Love ‘em. Love ‘em. Love ‘em.” I had just completed seminary. It took me three years. He managed to give me the key to ministry in thirty seconds.
Warren gave me the key to ministry—and all of life, but he didn’t tell me how much work love is.
In the book that almost broke our women’s Bible study (The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope for, and Believe), Father Richard Rohr writes:
Love is constantly creating future possibilities for the good of all concerned— even, and especially, when things go wrong. Love allows and accommodates everything in human experience, both the good and the bad, and nothing else can really do this.
Love is the key. Nothing else can accomplish what love can, but it is hard work. The demand to love exceeds our ability to love. I believe that love is actively creating new possibilities for us now, especially when things feel so wrong. Because nothing else can really do this, we must make a common and concerted effort to love—to love each other, to love the world we live in, to love ourselves, to love the stranger. Easily said than done…or easier accomplished than vocalized?
I Corinthians 13, the official Scripture of almost every wedding I’ve ever performed, “Love is patient.” I wanted to use the whole thing, but until we recognize that the first, the primary mover of love is patience the rest must wait. We cannot move haphazardly through Paul’s ode to love without ensuring that we have mastered Rule #1: Love is Patient.
I love you.
I need you.
I hope for you.
Please be safe.