When I was a boy I never liked going to church that much. I enjoyed the Sunday potluck dinners we sometimes had after it. They were a feast of country cooking. I enjoyed the Sunday school classes too. I got to see my friends there. It was the church services themselves that I couldn’t relate too. They were full of symbolism and rituals that my young mind couldn’t yet understand. The sermons and Bible readings were largely tuned out by me too. It was struggle enough just keeping my little body still in the hard, wooden pews. I longed to be outside playing in the sunshine. I would look around at the people dressed in their Sunday best while I tugged at my own tie. Then I’d glance at my watch and wonder when it would end.
It was during one of those sermons, however, that I did hear something that would stick in my heart, soul, and mind from that day forward. It was the middle of Summer and the heat made me feel even more restless than usual. I was looking down at my dress shoes and dangling my feet from the pew while the sermon went on and on. Suddenly, the Priest’s voice rose and got very loud as he finished. “Remember this!,” he said as I raised my head. “If you don’t remember anything else I have said. Remember this. You are loved! You are loved unconditionally by a greater love than you can ever imagine! God loves you, now and forever!”
Those words of wisdom found a place deep inside of me. I did find myself remembering them over and over again in my life. As I learned, grew, struggled, and stumbled those words stayed in my heart. They helped me to rise up and try again every time I fell. They helped me to find my own love for God, for myself, and for others. They became a central part of who I am and what I write. The one gift I hope to give all of you is this truth. May you always remember then that “You are loved!” May you always know that “God loves you, now and forever!”sSKM: below-content placeholder