Epistle: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
1If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
Probably a familiar verse to many of you, if you have been to a wedding in the past 40 years or so!
I remember one bride who wanted this read at the wedding, but to replace her husband-to-be’s name in place of the word LOVE. Pretty high praise for her husband. That would all be well and good, until the day comes when Frank is NOT patient and kind…
I have used this in Bible study and read it so we replace GOD where the word LOVE appears.
Someone once said love, like a well, is a good thing to drink from but a bad thing to fall into. We talk about falling in love, love can conquer all, what the world needs now is love sweet love, love is a many splendid thing. We see bumper stickers that tell us what people love, from their cat or dog, to their boat, to the state of New York.
So what is love?
Judith Viorst, in a poem called "What Is This Thing Called Love? writes, "Infatuation is when you think that he's as sexy as Robert Redford, as smart as Henry Kissinger, as noble as Ralph Nader, as funny as Woody Allen, and as athletic as Jimmy Conners. Love is when you realize that he's as sexy as Woody Allen, as smart as Jimmy Conners, as funny as Ralph Nader, as athletic as Henry Kissinger, and nothing like Robert Redford -but you'll take him anyway!
Some children were asked, "What is love?" One little girl answered, "Love is when your mommy reads you a bedtime story. True Love is when she doesn't skip any pages."
There are different definitions for love, and in the Greek, there are different words that mean love in different ways. The love that we have in this passage is AGAPE love. The best way I have heard to describe this is a love that is not so much a feeling but a choice. It is a love that puts the other first before self.
This is the love of Jesus Christ, who spoke of love and showed love.
If Frank can do that, that would be great! But the reality is we all fall short. But God’s love is unconditional, and God’s compassion is complete.
God is love. All God does is out of love. In response, we are called to love God and love neighbor.
Let us pray: For your great love, O God, we give you thanks. Free us from our sin and empower us to love as you first loved us. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.