Column: Choose Love

By Rev. Heather A. M. Sinclair

loved reading Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books when I was a preteen.

The story started in a mundane way, but gradually the characters found themselves on an exciting adventure, whether embarking on a ghost hunt, stumbling across a time-travelling portal in a cave or discovering magical, mythical creatures, such as unicorns, dragons, and extra-terrestrial beings.  After several pages, there would be a dramatic pause in the narrative when the reader could choose to open the shut door or to continue down the hall. Take the left or right path.

Face the dragon or flee to safety. Each choice had a corresponding page number, on which the story would continue.

There were dozens of endings as you chose your steps on the adventure. And, if you didn’t like the ending of the story, you could “rewind” and choose a different ending. 

At some point, when all the stories had been read and endings were exhausted, adult life set in. In real life, choices are not as easy.  Pages cannot be turned backward to reach a better ending.

Choices are real – college, jobs, relationships, housing, health and finances. Each choice affects other choices. I remember the first time I had no other choice but to buy a vacuum cleaner with my own hard-earned money. That action seemed to make the beginning of “real” adult choices. But at least, I could choose my favorite color – who wouldn’t want a purple vacuum?!

Life is one decision after another, some simple, some surprisingly difficult, some bittersweet because you know the choice is the best, even if it is painful.

It can be difficult to make choices that move us out of our comfort zone into a future filled with more uncertain choices.

By the time this column goes go print, moving trucks will have come and gone from the parsonage owned by the First UMC of Greenwich.

In the tradition of Methodist itineracy, I will leave Greenwich and become the pastor of the United Methodist Church of Westport and Weston. 

The choice was not an easy one, as I love all the opportunities, resources and relationships in the Greenwich community, but the choice is a good one.  With any change comes the possibility of new adventures and new opportunities to learn and grow.

In a document from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership entitled, 50 Ways to Welcome your New Pastor, the first item is: “Open your hearts and decide that you are going to love your new pastor.”

Not coincidently, that commandment is the top of things for a pastor to do in a new congregation.  The message is that when we choose love, everything else is off to a good start.

Imagine if all of our life decisions were rooted in love.  Imagine the possibilities, the adventures, and the joy.  Love is not always easy, but love is perfect when it finds its source in the love of God.

The Apostle Paul wrote, the words of the apostle Paul to the faith community at Corinth, love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures, all things.  Love never ends.”(1Cor 13:7).

Love isn’t always the easiest or most obvious choice.

But choosing love has been the choice of generations of faithful people who practice the whole spectrum of faith traditions.  Scripture calls us to love those who are deemed unlovable: the widow, the orphan, the immigrant, the imprisoned, the sick, the child, the tax-collector, the politician, the neighbor, the stranger, the enemy.  Imagine a world in which, “Love your neighbor as yourself”(Romans 13:9) is truly the law by which we live, work, worship and welcome.

A recent internet video showed a young boy helping a woman with a walker up a flight of garden stairs.  The boy was on his way to do something else, when he saw the woman and made the choice to love her and offer a helping hand. 

The video went viral, perhaps not for the sweet hug at the end, but because people are hungering for example of love and compassion in a world too often consumed by hate and despair.

Imagine the possibilities when love is chosen. Small acts don’t change the world, but they change us and the people around us, one at a time.

And, the choice of love ripples through all the adventures of our lives.

The Rev. Heather A. M. Sinclair is pastor of First United Methodist Church Greenwich.