If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And 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. If 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.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love 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. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When 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. For 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. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13
It seems appropriate to begin our Lenten series on Love with the perhaps the best known passage on Love from the Christian Scriptures. What is sometimes known as 'St Paul's Hymn to Love.
Ever since I heard a preacher at a wedding say, "Try replacing the word 'love' in this passage with your name, and see how far you get." I made the mistake of personalizing this passage in a way that set me up for failure.
That's not the point of Paul's writing here, though. The passage is expansive, encouraging, uplifting. It reminds us of the divine love, expansive, and always giving. The word for love in the original Greek is Agape - unlimited, generous, unmerited, gracious love. The Love of God. When it was translated into Latin, the word used was Caritas - charity, a love which gives. This is not a love that points us to our failures, but a love which never fails, a love which calls us to share in its warmth, and to share it with others. It may be aspirational, but it doesn't seek to make us feel that we are not enough.
May this Lent be a time when you find the embrace of God's great love, as we journey together on this loving path.
You call us “beloved”
And you love us with a fierceness
that is at once unsettling and comforting.
May your Divine love dwell within us
and be enacted through us so that
No matter what language we speak
Love will dance within each word we say;
When you call us to stand up for justice,
Love will be the power that drives our actions;
When we seek knowledge,
Love will compel us beyond idle curiosity all the way to truth;
When we offer our prayers in faith,
Love for you will fill our hearts with peace;
When we give of ourselves and our possessions,
Love for you and your people will shine above love for worldly things.
Thank you, God, for the gift of love,
And empower us to walk the path love opens before us.
From Joanna Harader at A Spacious Faith Blog