Valentine’s Day and the promise of unconditional love
Greetings! As this is my first article for Pennsylvania Bridges, I thought I would take a moment to introduce myself. My name is B.T. Gilligan and I am the pastor at California United Methodist Church. I started here last July so I am fairly new to this beautiful town. My family and I are still trying to learn our way around town and all the people’s names. We came from a small town near Grove City. I can’t believe how fast time has gone and how quickly we have gotten to nearly Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day always brings back memories of those terrible junior high awkward years and the even more awkward junior high dances. I don’t know if you are familiar with them but they are the stuff of nightmares. I remember one particularly horrible junior high dance that I attended. While there, I saw the girl who was my math class crush, not to be confused with my English class crush or my science class crush. After an hour of trying to work up the courage, I finally asked her to dance. At my request she promptly burst into tears and ran into the girls’ restroom where she hid until the dance was over. I had extended myself and risked everything and I got crushed. It was horrible. I still have nightmares about this event.
This is what love is. When we are in love with a person we have put ourselves in a place where we risk being hurt by another person. When we love we extend ourselves in such a way that we might get crushed. If we never risk our pain for another, we aren’t really experiencing love. When we say we are in love with someone, we are saying that we have opened ourselves up to them and they are free to respond or not. Their response, or lack of one, does not make our love any less real. Love is not less valid because the other person does not respond. In fact, this is how we know what love is, when we put ourselves in a position where we might get hurt so that others can experience the love you have for them.
This is what it is with Jesus. At the cross, Jesus died because of His great love for the entire world. Jesus did it knowing some may not respond and that some may even reject Him. At the cross Jesus extended Himself to all people, no matter what. The love Jesus showed at the cross is not dependent on anyone’s response and is still valid regardless of what we have done.
Some of us may have said yes, some may have said no, still others may have burst into tears and ran to the bathroom. Either way the love extended is still there waiting, waiting for you
and for me, available to you no matter what.
At CUMC, we say it this way: “No matter what you did, when you did it, who you did it to, with, for, because of, or how many times you have done it, God’s not angry with you. God is in love with you and has made Himself available to you through Jesus.”
So then may you know that just as you risk pain and heartache when you love another person, so has Jesus risked it all for you and the whole world.
Services are held at CUMC on Sundays at 10:45 a.m.
Written by Rev. B. T. Gilligan for Pennsylvania Bridges