Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
• Ah the famous wedding passage, images of brides and grooms, happy couples beginning “happily ever after”. Then of course we have the wisdom of children (stolen from the internets) on what love is…
“Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.” Mary Ann – age 4
“During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn’t scared anymore.” Cindy – age 8
“When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth.” Billy – age 4
“When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.” Rebecca – age 8
“There are two kinds of love. Our love. God’s love. But God makes both kinds of them.” Jenny – age 8
• These are all well and good and I believe Paul’s passage applies well to children and couples but there is more. Paul is addressing a church that is divided, a fledgling church that is in conflict and in need of both guidance and correction.
Paul finds that the church is in conflict, divided over belief and authority, wrestling with issues of status and pride. Paul talks about love as a way – the only and best way, really – of dealing with the conflict. He’s been talking about unity and spiritual gifts, and he builds up to this grand chapter in which he demonstrates that love is the way to deal with conflict and division, love is the way to interact with one another and the way to imitate Christ. Love is not avoiding conflict but entering in to it, setting Christ-like values and priorities.
• When God saw the broken state of humankind, when God saw how God’s people had turned on him, forgotten him forsaken him denied him despised him, when God saw that the God/human relationship was broken, what did God do? He entered in to it in love. (This is how the love of God is revealed to us: God has sent his only Son into the world so that we can live through him. – 1 John 4:9) (God shows his love for us, for while we were still sinners Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8)
• So true love is incarnational, it is real. (and I’ve been holding back)
• Jesus did not hold anything back. In Jesus God said if you’ve lost the way, Jesus is the way.
Let us pour ourselves, no, let us pour Christ into the broken situations in our lives and in the lives of those we come in contact with, loving humbly and deeply, sacrificially and unconditionally, even as in the love of Christ we are being made whole.
• Sacrament of Holy Communion