Stage 3: Hosea’s Risky Love, part 2
In part one of this stage, we were given the model of love of husband and wife. Now our text brings us the image of the love of children given to our care. This seems like familiar ground, even if we’ve not been parents. Maybe we’ve helped out in the nursery, maybe we have babysat, maybe we’ve just observed. There’s no question that caring for children is hard work. It’s often thankless. (Here’s a hint: take the opportunity to say thank you to those who have responsibility for caring for children— staff and volunteers. What they do is important for the life of the whole church!)
The other obvious point is that this is transformational love. You teach and guide and set boundaries and encourage and support, and more. There are ages and stages in the life of those in our care, and each one has its own struggles. Some find one stage easier than another, but all take effort and perseverance. How can we lift up the task of raising children in our community and church? What can we do to give honor to those who take the risk of loving like this?
There is a subtext to the passage this week. There is evidence that the child (Israel) rebels against the parent (God). What parent hasn’t been there? What teacher doesn’t face opposition? What mentor isn’t moved to throw up his/her hands and want to give up? Even God seems pushed to the brink. Yet, the commitment to love, the faithfulness of God’s love perseveres, even in the hard times. But tread carefully here, worship team. Be aware of broken hearts and parental wounds. Also, there are offspring who didn’t have that persevering love experience in their lives, and the hurt can linger for a lifetime.
That is not to say we avoid the subject, but that we go with compassion. We proclaim with understanding and with forgiveness. And we remember that only God is always faithful. So, we offer grace wherever we can. That’s what can make risky love work.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.