2016 5 12 Shannon-DycusShannon W. Dycus is co-pastor at First Mennonite in Indianapolis. She is on the adult worship planning team for Orlando 2017 and excited about gathering in celebration of love.

Scrolling through Facebook a few days ago, I ran across a meme that read:

How cool is it that the same God that created mountains and oceans and galaxies looked at you and thought the world needed one of you too.

This jolts our concept of self a bit, doesn’t it? To understand our existence in comparison to the magnitude of mountains and the depth of oceans and the intricacy of galaxies is profound. And then imagine the beauty, mystery and purpose each of these earthen wonders represent. Did the same God that created and saw need of them, create and see the same need for each of us? I believe so. What love!

As any good Mennonite would, when invited to think of love, we often think of our neighbor or the stranger whom we2016 5 12 meme know God has called us into loving relationship with. Rarely do we linger on the love that precedes our ability to love others.

It’s also important to remind ourselves of how beloved each one of us is to God. This is shown to us in each moment of our lives.

Creating, providing, sustaining, protecting, nurturing, blessing – God’s love for us is an endless string of verbs. Though they sometimes become ordinary parts of life, it is our cherished honor and gift to receive God’s love. To know ourselves as loved is a verb. Believing in our own belovedness is a verb.

As God continues forming us, we learn God’s love in new ways. As we mature, so does our grasp of God’s love. As we learn to love others, others who are new to us, we learn new parts of God and God’s love. One of the greatest beauties of worship is seeking to capture the depth of this love. Being attentive to new types of love is a verb. Freshly understanding God’s continuous love is a verb.

My oldest son is in kindergarten and when he and his classmates participate with great thoughts and questions, their teacher rewards them. She invites them to take their hand, touch it against their mouth and then their forehead to “kiss their brain.” An affirmation of their engaged thinking, this is really an invitation for them to remind themselves of their own goodness. I believe that is one of our goals for convention. Yes, we do want to be stimulated by new ways of loving each other. Yet we also want each individual to leave fully knowing that they are beloved children of God. I am excited about gathering in Orlando, participating together in reminders of how deeply we are each loved by God.

In our brokenness, despite ways we are marginalized, in every way we are seeking healing – we are all fully loved by God.

God looked at the world and decided the world needed each one of us. It is in the blessing of community that we affirm and celebrate the love God first offers us. “We love because God first loved us” (1 John 4:19). We love because God first gives us the language to love. We love because the action and truth of love are first shown to us by God. God’s love toward you is a verb. Let’s encourage and celebrate this each day … and together next summer in Orlando!