The experience of shared loss and heartache amid a pandemic can serve as our inspiration to see our shared humanity more clearly and affirm human dignity more fiercely. The song “Seasons of Love,” from the Rent soundtrack, includes the refrain “Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes, five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear, five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes, How do you measure? Measure a year? How about in love?”

The musical’s call to measure time through the lens of love echoes the words of Jesus, who made it clear that the greatest commandments are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” and to “Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40). In a similar fashion, the apostle Paul writes on the centrality of love, to a deeply divided church in Corinth, saying, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). My greatest prayer for all of us in 2022 is that we measure our lives in love.

While this prayer may sound overly sentimental in the face of great peril and challenge, love has the power to cast out fear and undergirds the very pursuit of justice and peace. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”

In 2022, we pray that passing federal voting rights legislation will demonstrate our love for our democracy. We pray that accomplishing the Build Back Better agenda will reflect our love for protecting the most vulnerable and help enable all children, families, and communities to thrive. We pray that by living out a deeper commitment to anti-racism we will show our love for the imago dei in each person. We pray that co-creating a carbon-free future will signal our love for creation and safeguarding the dreams of future generations. We pray that combatting an alarming increase in COVID-19 infections through vaccinations, mask wearing, and compassionate supports will reflect our love for our neighbor and the common good. We pray that ‘Ohana Youth Ministries will continue to seek opportunities to be a voice for justice in our world – and that we will live out this call through service initiatives such as SSP and SFD, but also through new ideas and possibilities to walk with Jesus, as we focus on nurturing our people and communities, taking a stand for environmental justice, exploring how outdoor ministries might play a role in healing, and continuing to advocate for the acceptance of all peoples as beloved children of God. We pray that these and other commitments of love will become central to our Christian discipleship. Let us create the space for this love to flow in and around us.

Yes, let’s measure the next year in love. Let us sojourn in a love that implements the demands of justice and corrects everything that stands against love. 

“Find people who believe in you.

People who believe in your gifts.

People who understand your vision.

People who applaud your quirks and celebrate even the tiniest of victories.

Find those people and hold them close like the air in your lungs and the sun’s rays upon your face.”

May it be so!