Sunday, February 03, 2019

Love Sermon

         I gotta say, I didn’t plan this—Lisa and I were just looking for a time between Christmas and Ash Wednesday to get married—it is just a coincidence that the Sunday after our wedding the Gospel lesson was about the Wedding at Cana, and now my first Sunday back in the pulpit we read 1stCorinthians 13… the love chapter… where Paul uplifts love, defines it, and assures us it isn’t going anywhere, for it is the greatest of God’s gifts… It’s so often read at weddings that we forget that it isn’tPaul’s advice to newlyweds.
         Pastors often end up doing this funny two-step where they:
-remind the couple that Paul is talking about love being acted out in a Christian Community,
-and then they hope the couple can be a small Christian Community to one another…
         And that’s the dance we so often play with Paul’s words, so often that we miss that first part
—Paul is writing to a Church, a community of believers, a bunch of sinners who trust that they’ve been made right by Jesus
—a group of people… isn’t is said one of the dangers of community is that “we judge ourselves by our insides, but everyone else by their outsides”
—the motivations and methods of other people are always opaque and mysterious… and a church consists of a bunch of other people… what could possibly go wrong?
         Yes, Paul is writing to a whole community, a Church
—a bunch of folk with different gifts given to them by God, a people with a variety of talents and treasures, a diverse bunch of people,
all united together, even as they are broken and incomplete,
together striving to let it be known that “Jesus is Lord” and striving to work for the common good,
even as they do so from a variety of backgrounds and with a variety of gifts given by God… gifts and backgrounds that are all valuable, all important to God…
         And yet, there is something more valuable than all that
—let me tell you about the most valuable thing
—let me tell you about love.
         Let me tell you about love.
         I want to sing and speak in such a way people listen, oratories and arias that receive standing ovations and kisses blown from ivory balconies…
-Without love, all anyone will hear from me are babbling speeches and bad violin screeches.
         I heartily wish to plumb the depths of this world and the next, to bear upon the tip top of my bald spot the meaning of life and be a fountain of wisdom that the next generation can come to in order to fill up their cup…
-Without love, I’m a divine dunce, hardly human—truly so heavenly minds I’m no earthly good.
         I strive to be generous, to give what I got and more if I can, to fill any outstretched palm and ensure no belly goes to bed empty
—without love, no one trulyreceived anything from me… God help me!

         Let me tell you about love.
         As I said it is hard to measure the motivations of others, or even our own, if we’re honest—is it a loving action I do or not? How do I measure that, how do I know the nature of what I do or what is done by another? What does love look like?
         Loving actions are not done to one-up another or to shame someone.
         Loving actions are not done out of arrogance or to bring about discomfort.
         Loving actions are not all about you.
         Loving actions aren’t motivated by rage or grudge.
         No, loving actions are always magnanimous and always kind. 
         Love never rejoices in injury! 
         Love rejoices in the Truth, for love is eternal, it shall not buckle as if weighed down, nor be worn away by the ravages of time.
         Love is the subject of our hope and the object of our faith. The promises of love are true; love is trustworthy.

         If I was on a journey from Teaneck to San Francisco I’d certainly be on Interstate 80 headed west.
         If I was on a journey from Fort Kent, Maine to Key West, Florida I’d certainly be on Route 1 heading south.
         And if I was on a journey of the Spirit I’d have faith in love (that is, I’d put my trust in love) and be hoping for love and my final destination would be love.
         I’m just somewhere along that road,
I’m trusting and I’m hoping—we all are—but friends in Christ we will make it to love!
Hold fast to your faith in the love found in Christ Jesus our Lord,
dream of the day when his love will find completion in us!
Love every chance you get! 
         Yes, these three, faith, hope, and love—they are gifts from God that abide—and the greatest of these is love.