Greetings of Love and Affection

Karen Gempel // Tales From the Trenches


October 30  

Two of our grandchildren stayed over with us last weekend; our daughter and son-in-law needed to work. There was already a note of apology in my daughter’s voice when she called to ask. We aren’t retired yet, and she knows our weekends are precious. 

So yes, of course they could stay!

They happily burst through the door Friday afternoon, our granddaughter, seven, and our first grandson, just three. They tossed their backpacks and wrapped their arms around our knees! They were just so happy to see us! They’d been waiting forever to come spend the night! “I always want to see you, Grandma!” my grandson shouted. (It had been four days.) “These times won’t last long,” my husband noted. “The preteen eye rolls are in the queue,” I agreed.  

Oh, but this evening was golden! They each devoured four slices of pizza, drew pictures of us covered in hearts with the new crayons, took a long while with their prayers, then begged for the hundredth time to hear the true family tale of Great-grandpa Jack and the Big Blue Heron.  

After her little brother was in bed, my granddaughter asked me to brush her hair. As I sat with her, and the soft lamplight shone on her cheek, she looked so much like her mother! A piercing love welled up, so strong that tears came to my eyes, and I wondered, What is the source of this heart-rending love that sweeps over me? Surely not a nameless wind ringing a bell!

The beautiful opening letter of Paul to the Philippians is a masterpiece of love, hope, and poignant longing for his children of faith who carry Christ into the future. Paul is at first simply overcome with love:

I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you because of your partnership for the Gospel from the first day until now.

Paul knows that self-giving love—agape—is ever renewed in us! The love that began with the Father’s gift of his only Son, and the son Christ Jesus’ gift to us of his body and blood, is brought to fruition in each new generation who believes in God’s goodness and light.

We are each given this gift in our own time and place.

We reflect Christ in vows to our spouses that bring joy and pain, in sacrificial love for our innocent children, and, in our grandchildren, the realization that we are part of the long line of the faithful. No, the source of our love is not wind ringing a bell, but the everlasting and ever-giving love of God for us.

For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: That your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception to discern what is of value so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,  filled with the fruit of righteousness,  for the glory and praise of God (Phil 1:1-11).

And in our vows to our spouses, and our love for our children, who need us so much, are reflections of the gift of Christ Jesus’ body and blood for us and the ultimate gift of God the Father of his only son.

This self-giving love—agape—is ever renewed in us, brought to fruition in our own time with each new generation who continues in goodness and light—the call of an everlasting ever-giving love.  

Paul sees that the great continuum of love that begins with the Father for his Son, and Christ Jesus for us, is part of our vows to each other, then our love for our own small children, who need us so much, as we need Jesus.

Proclaim the Genius & Share!
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