Lenten Devotional: Unconditional Love: Appreciating His Journey to the Cross by Ronald E. Carver

Over this Lenten season, the Spiritual Formation team at First Presbyterian Church in Bend put a call out to all to submit writings for a Lenten Devotional. I will do my best to post those here daily. You can also go to our website and access all of the devotions on a pdf file.

Here is the fifth submission:

“Unconditional Love: Appreciating His Journey to the Cross.”

“Love is patient; love is kind and envies no one. Love, is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude; never selfish, not quick to take offence. Love keeps no score of wrongs; does not gloat over other men’s sins, but delights in the truth. There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope and its endurance.” I Corinthians 13: 4-7.

The Rev. Joseph Lowery opened his inauguration benediction with the first words of the Negro National Anthem, “God of our weary years, God of our silent tears…” He went on to implore God to help Americans make “choices on the side of love, not hate, on the side of inclusion, not exclusion, tolerance, not intolerance.”

As I attempt to write this devotion from the perspective of the just completed Inauguration of our first African-American President, I cannot help but be moved by the way “love” made this new day possible.

This past weekend I briefly spoke to Mrs. Myrlie Evers-Williams in the Redmond Airport as she prepared to fly to Washington, D.C. for this transforming event in the life of our country. Last evening on TV, I saw a documentary interview with her about her perspective on this inauguration, and on the murder of her husband, Medgar Evers, a World War II veteran and civil rights leader, 45 years ago in Mississippi. In those dark days of the civil rights struggle she could have given up and allowed fear, despair and hate to take over and all would have understood. But she did not, and, instead, she chose the search for justice, she chose the way of love and compassion, and then she did the hard work to help bring about this wonderful day of redemption in our land. As she said in that interview, “I now know that Medgar’s death was not in vain,” and as she placed a bouquet of flowers on his grave in Arlington Cemetery, she said to him something to the effect, “our work is finally done.” Some may not know that Mrs. Evers-Williams has chosen to live in Bend, here in our community. She has spoken several times in the past in our church. For me her life and her example, as much as anything else, give deep meaning and reality to what has happened at this defining moment in our history of our country. Her life speaks to the fact that love has no limit to its faith, its hope and its endurance.

For us at First Presbyterian Church this Lenten Season, we need to re-examine ourselves and our choices on how we live. Are we always choosing to love, not hate; are we inclusive and not exclusive? Do we choose tolerance, not intolerance? Do we embrace justice and fairness for all? Do we show unconditional love and compassion to those in need?

I cannot imagine the journey that Jesus had to The Cross, but it is so apparent that at every turn He chose Love. And how Love forever changed the world thereafter!

I have great hope in the future of our county as we collectively re-examine our priorities and return to those abiding ideals that made our county a beacon of hope in the world. May the Unconditional Love of Jesus be manifest in our lives and in our work together in our community, our county and our world!

Prayer: Dear Lord, May we understand the depth of Your Love for us as we journey with You on the road to The Cross this Lenten Season. May we examine our own lives and choose Love where there may be hate, inclusion where there may be exclusion and tolerance where there may be intolerance. Forgive us when we fail. In Your name we pray. Amen.

–Ronald E. Carver


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