I collect favorites.
This morning, while we're all still disheveled and waking, one of my roommates stands in front of me and demands to know what to get for Christmas for the girl who doesn't keep anything. Before I can say anything, there is a chorus of "...and hugs don't count!"
So I say time, but I am vetoed. I say a Starbucks gift card since it seems the only charges on my account are from there, they say that's like giving me money and I don't need that. Finally we settle on trying to find a cheap armchair from a thrift store. I have an empty corner in my room next to the window and I want to sit there in the morning, with coffee and quiet.
The only things I keep are my favorites. Mostly art, some books. And people. People are my favorite. You are probably one of my favorites. I've probably said that to your face and you laughed at me because you heard me say it to another face moments before. I love you. Don't you get that? You are my favorite. I collect my favorites and I keep them. Forever.
My favorite line in a song of all time is this: His law is love and His gospel is peace. I have never known why I love it so much. Maybe the cadence? Maybe the alliteration (alliteration is my favorite)? Maybe the tremor in our voices when we sing that line? I don't know.
I sat across from a friend the other day and she wept, the gospel is so hard, so demanding, unrelenting, it makes us change and it's hard, I'm finished. I'm done.
I know, I said. And that's okay.
I was not agreeing with her, that the gospel is hard, demanding, unrelenting. I was just saying, "I know how you feel." And I do. There have been times when the law has felt like chains and the angst of the gospel has demanded more of me than I have ever had to give. But the truth is that his law is only love and his gospel is only peace, and it's my feelings that are wrong.
This year when I sing this hymn, though, I am thinking of how only the confidence of truth sets us free. Because we can know something and not really know it. We can believe something and still struggle to believe it. We can feel the heavy weight of something and not feel the freedom of the weight.
God incarnate came and taught us to love. He came to break chains of oppression, to set slaves free. And these people around us, these brothers and sisters, they're slaves. We feel like slaves sometimes too. But we who are children of God, we know that that law is only there to show us our need and that the gospel is only there because we couldn't do it on our own.
The law is love.
The gospel is peace.
It is my confidence in the truth of God's character that makes me trust Him. I trust that He loves me because I trust that God is love, not because I feel loved. I trust that He has peace for me, not because I feel peace, but because I know that He is the Prince of Peace.
That alone is worth the praise of His holy name.
That is my real and truest favorite.
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His Gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His Name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy Name!