“Everything I know about love I’ve learned from country music,” says Uncle Steve, with a laugh. It’s a well-worn joke, but I think it’s true: so much of what we know (or think we know) about love comes from popular culture.

Pause today and listen to the music. Ask yourself, in the words sung by so many different bands and musical artists, “What is love?”

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This was the passage of scripture he was reading:

Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent so he didn’t open his mouth. In his humiliation justice was taken away from him. Who can tell the story of his descendants because his life was taken from the earth?

The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, about whom does the prophet say this? Is he talking about himself or someone else?” Starting with that passage, Philip proclaimed the good news about Jesus to him.

Acts 8:32-35

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In today’s reading the Ethiopian man seeks to understand the scriptures, and he does so with a little help from Philip. Today I want to look at those same scriptures, with a little help from one of my favorite songs, “The Ballad of Love and Hate” by the Avett Brothers (2007).

This song is an allegory with two characters, Love and Hate. Throughout the song Love tries to reconcile with Hate. Love comes home from vacation, bringing hope to the taxi driver she meets along the way. Meanwhile Hate downs “a jar of the strongest stuff you can drink” while sitting on the hood of his car, never looking up at the stars.

The song begins, “Love writes a letter and sends it to Hate” — when I hear those words I think they are a perfect description of the gospel. When Jesus suffered “like a lamb before its shearer,” Jesus modeled what it looks like to confront Hate with Love. God’s love is stronger than hate. Jesus is God’s love, come home to us.

Heidi Thorsen Oxford

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Gracious God, you have won over Hate through the power of Love. Guard me from my own selfishness and hate, and create in me a heart that is led by love. Amen.

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“To love another person is to see the face of God.”

from the “Finale” of Les Misérables (1980)

Heidi Thorsen Oxford

Heidi Thorsen Oxford is a recent graduate of Union Theological Seminary (MDiv, ’17), and is a postulant for ordination to the priesthood in the Episcopal Diocese of New York. She is currently completing a chaplain residency at Yale New Haven Hospital. Heidi lives with her husband, Will Oxford, and their two beautiful cats.

Making Space: Day by Day

Carter Harrell

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