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The Herald February 2020

“The Joy In Being A Part Of The Body Of Christ “  
This year St. John’s will be the location for eight couples professing their love for each other as they take their marriage vows. Even for us, this number of weddings is more than normal. Aside from all the planning that goes into a wedding, there is also a significant number of hours involved with pre-marital counseling. Our wedding policy requires couples being married at St. John’s successfully complete a pre-marital counseling program. Most often, couples do that counseling with me, even though it is not required that the counseling be done by me.  Throughout my years of counseling couples preparing for marriage, I often bring into our discussions a book written by Gary Chapman entitled “The Five Love Languages.” I first came across this book while deployed with the Marine Corps and was tasked with leading marriage enrichment weekends for Marines and their spouses who were returning from deployments or preparing to be separated as one of them deployed to far-off lands.

In his book, Chapman proposes that people communicate their love for each other principally by speaking in five different ways, which he calls “The Five Love Languages.” Those languages are: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Quality Time, Physical Touch, and Receiving Gifts. Everybody both hears and speaks in these languages.  Most of us have one as our primary love language, but we might also have a secondary love language as well. Chapman emphasizes the need to both know what your love language is, as well as the love language of your partner. It is by speaking in the love language of our partner that we are able to “fill their love tank.” I find Chapman’s analogy of the “love tank” particularly appropriate. He says that like a car which needs a full gas tank to function well and travel the distance, every person needs their “love tank” filled by their significant other in order to both give and receive love. If your “love tank” is not being filled by your partner, then there will be a general lack of energy and enthusiasm in the relationship. Therefore, it is important to both hear and speak in your love languages there to ensure each person’s “love tank” is full.

This is a bit of a long explanation of Chapman’s book for my purposes here, but I want you to understand the premise for what I write next. I firmly believe what many of the early church fathers, and Luther himself, believed about the necessity of belonging in church and being in church if we hope to be a part of the body of Christ. It is in communion with each other that we experience the blessings of Christian fellowship as we become a part of the body of Christ. Think about the times when you have felt the closest to Christ. Has that been when you were worshiping Christ at your church? Has it been when you were working with other Christians to do the work of Christ in the world? Was it when you were involved in Bible study and discussion with your brothers and sisters in Christ at a Bible study? We often feel closest to Christ when we are gathered with other believers involved in the work and worship of Jesus Christ.

So, I ask: is your “faith tank” full? As we enter February, the new year is still young and there are lots of opportunities for us to be involved in ways that nourish our faith and help us draw closer to God through Jesus Christ. Some of those are obviously worship, Sunday school and Bible studies, helping those less fortunate as you represent Christ to them, sharing the invitation to “come and see,” and simply increasing your prayer frequency. All of those will help us both hear and speak the “love language” of God to each other and the world.

As Lent arrives this month, I encourage us to make some commitments to speak the love languages of God more clearly. Let us make commitments to take more seriously the truth that we are a part of the body of Christ in the world today. If we can do this, our “faith tank” and our joy will be exponentially more real to us.

I pray for you to be filled each day with all God’s goodness, blessings, and joy.

In Christ,

Pastor Butler +