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Denise and I on top of a mountain during our recent church sponsored trip to Greece and Rome – “Following the Footsteps of the Apostle Paul”

Renew Your Love!

My message today is about renewal in love. Every relationship, even the best of relationships can benefit with periodic moments of renewal. Denise and I have been married 39 years and one of the things that has been a blessing to us are those times when we have experienced renewal, both the planned and unplanned experiences. For example, after a while our idea of a date boiled down and settled to dinner and a movie. While I still enjoy sharing a dinner and movie with Denise, along the way we signed up for ballroom dance classes and to my surprise, the dancing has opened up a whole new set of places, people and things we can do. In an unplanned sense, the dancing has sparked a sense of renewal in our marriage.

For Mary and Joseph, their love experienced a major challenge before they were married. Mary was pregnant out of wedlock. Joseph planned to divorce her quietly. Imagine the stress and strain on this young couple. They were engaged to be married, and had not had sexual relations with each other. Their love was on the ropes and very easily could have died a quick and quiet death. Think of the couples you know who never recovered from unfaithfulness and adultery. In many cases, unfaithfulness is a deal breaker and often even if a couple can move beyond the heartbreak, the relationship is never the same.

Only the intervention of the Angel Gabriel helped Mary and Joseph to rise above the unplanned pregnancy. Gabriel informs both Mary and Joseph that she is bearing the Christ Child, who will bear the sins of the entire world. In like manner, sometimes you and I need the intervention of an angel. We need the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the angelic persons we have contact with to help us to renew our love.

To my thinking, renewal in love is a process and requires several steps:

  1. Acknowledge your anger, hurt, shame, disappointment
  2. Acknowledge your mistakes
  3. Request and pray for forgiveness
  4. Pray for the strength to forgive
  5. Offer your forgiveness
  6. Both persons must commit to move beyond whatever has hurt them
  7. Step bravely into the future

I encourage you now to read the story of how the angel Gabriel reassures Mary and Joseph and helps them to renew their love.

Matthew 1: 18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20 But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.[1]

Questions for Reflection:

  1. How does the angel Gabriel help Mary and Joseph to renew their love?
  2. What are some of the biggest challenges in renewing love?
  3. What lessons can we learn from Mary and Joseph in renewing our love?

 

Prayer:

Lord, I pray today for renewal. For every couple under the face of the sun, the married and the unmarried, bless us with a fresh sense of renewal. When love has become predictable, mundane and boring, spring forth your Holy Spirit from heaven a fresh spark of renewal. When trust is broken and feelings are hurt, send forth your renewal. Help us to rise from the valley of unfaithfulness to the bright sunshine of new trust and joy. Grant us the ability to transcend hurt and shame as we learn new ways to believe in each other, trust in each other and love one another. Teach us new ways to enjoy the company of each other. Show us fresh ways to listen, learn and laugh with each other. Send forth your angels and renew our trust, restore our faith, revitalize our desire to please and to be pleased by each other. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior we pray. Amen.

 

Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Photo by Nicholas Hood III

Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Hood at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/

Learn about the work and mission of Nicholas Hood III Ministries at www.nicholashoodiiiministries.org

 

[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. 1989 (Mt 1:18–20). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.