For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:6)
We know that God is love, and in returning love to God, we engage in a mutually creative relationship. The quality of this mutual love is enhanced by the persistent act of loving, especially loving acts toward other people and situations. There is not a temporary fix for inconsistent effort, something that wipes clean the slate of our failures, our lack of effort to properly maintain our relationship to God. Our knowledge of God is gained through love. When we love God, God is constantly revealed to us in new ways. We notice a smile that was absent from the face of someone before, we notice small acts of kindness, and we see the pain in someone’s eyes and we can look into those eyes with recognition because our constant love holds God’s presence for us and for them in the most difficult moments. A casual effort, a half-hearted effort, an effort based on mindless repetition of rules (old law) is like a burnt offering that in a moment of intensity produces light, but then the light fades and the offering loses its heat. Knowledge of God sustains our effort because the effort to act in love is rewarded with love, and love inspires and nourishes us. This cycle of nourishment and consistent giving is evidence of God’s presence and we learn to trust in God’s healing, nourishing, and sustaining power.
God of creation and power, sustain us in our love that we may steadfastly engage the world in ways that are healing and nourishing. Let our effort to nourish others, nourish us. May we be healed by our effort to repair and heal the world. May we help alleviate the suffering of the world through acts of love and the expression of truth. Let our actions, our words, the whole of our bodies and our lives, be a sacrament that gives light, that burns with the everlasting warmth of compassion, and that seeks new ways to express the truth. We bear witness to your truth through love, love that has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ. Amen.