Valentine’s Day is just past, and you could tell it was coming when the Christmas Candy aisle at Fred Meyer in late December became the Valentine Candy aisle. It got us thinking and talking about love.

As Christian pastors, we believe in love but not just the candy and flowers kind. (Note to our husbands: we like that kind too!) God is the author of true love. On this we agree. We come to the area from very different paths. Pastor Joyce has been a United Methodist pastor for 40 years, coming to Goldendale from the position of a Senior Pastor on the west side. Pastor Patti is in her first church as pastor at the Centerville Church, having served on large church staffs in lay ministry. In a lot of ways, we are different. One grew up in a home of Democrats, the other in a home of Republicans. Politically and theologically we come towards the center from different directions. Our churches are different—though both have faithfully served this community a long time. We both love the Bible but can read it differently. We find ourselves at times on different sides of issues that could easily divide us.

Yet, for all of that, we are so blessed with a friendship that truly is a gift. It is a delightful gift because at the center of different paths we find our commonality in Christ’s love. We know through scripture that “perfect love casts out fear.” Differences can make us fearful. Love makes us willing to open our hearts to each other in the midst of our differences. While Valentine’s Day talks of romantic love, our faith talks about the heart of Christian love. This is love that at times is difficult because it means having loving regard for the other even when we disagree. It is a love that wills the best for the other regardless of their religion, politics, race, or differences. This love at the center of the teachings of Jesus is what we need in our world today. This love puts God above all and calls us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. As Christians we reach out to others because that is where we find God’s love. So this season of hearts and flowers, remember real love is sweeter than candy, fresher than flowers—for it is found in the gracious heart of God. God’s heart connects us with each other and the wonderful community we are blessed to serve.