Special church service is light on politics, heavy on love

With election issues and election results dividing people around the country, local clergy got together Thursday night to lead a service about love.

About 35 people attended the service at Mary Taylor United Methodist Church, where there was no mention of either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, but plenty of reference to a higher being who wants people to love everyone, regardless of political party.

“Put love above all else,” said the Rev. Christopher Files.

Noting that the reason they had gathered for the 7 p.m. service called a Love Feast was to counter the rhetoric and divisiveness that surrounded the election, Pastor Brian Bodt said people need to widen their circles of friends and acquaintances to include people who are different.

Christians are called to a higher standard, he said, asking people to show love for people “even if it hurts.”

A unison prayer reminded people that everyone has some good qualities, despite their party affiliation. “Help us again to see with your sight, that each person is your child, created in your image, and for whom Christ was willing to die that we might be saved,” the prayer says.

Churchgoers were asked to share personal stories about witnessing people rising beyond the norm to show their love and respect for others.

Pastor Bodt started, telling the story of a woman who bought a used car for $1,200: It was struck by another car and totaled the same day she bought it. The woman got $6,000 insurance money for the totaled car; and she called the people who sold it to her and said she would split the insurance money with them, minus what she’d spent on the car.

The Rev. Karl Duetzmann shared a story too, telling the assembly that he spotted excessive human kindness when he was in eighth grade and his parents sent him to church camp, where he didn’t know anyone. He found so much acceptance and kindness in the people there that he ultimately became a minister.

One woman said she has a close friend but they are very different: He is a Republican and she’s a Democrat. The woman’s daughter is a lesbian, and she said that while her friend is accepting of homosexuals, he doesn’t believe they should marry. So when her daughter married, the mother did not invite her very good friend to the ceremony.

“The next time he saw my daughter he went up to her, hugged her and congratulated her. That was love,” the mother said.

Pastor Bodt said a parishioner asked him to organize the service to counter the increasing tide of animosity that had arisen around the country since the Nov. 8 Presidential Election and the campaign leading up to the election. He quickly recalled that the church has just such a mass for this situation: The Love Feast. This is the first time he has held the Mass at Mary Taylor Church.

The Love Feast, or Agape Meal, is a Christian fellowship meal. It recalls the meals Jesus shared with disciples during his ministry and expresses the fellowship enjoyed by the family of Christ, church leaders said.

The service included a number of readings and songs on the theme of love.