Dear Friends in Christ,
“And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three;
and the greatest of these is love”
(1 Corinthians 13:13)
As I prepare to lead the Synod in 2021: The Year of Generosity, I am doing a “deep reading” and study of 1st and 2nd Corinthians. Last week, I worked through St. Paul’s well known “love passage” in 1 Corinthians 13. Bible scholars call it an “epideictic showpiece”, an example of “rhetoric in its highest form”, and a “jarring and deliberative argument”. I find Paul’s words simply beautiful and deeply inspiring. Please take a moment to slowly and carefully read through St. Paul’s poem, the Way of Love.
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.
As you allow St. Paul’s last phrase to sing to your soul, I ask two simple questions. As you think back over the last 24 hours,
- When were you loved?
- When did you love?