Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab / window):
Psalms 43; 149, Exodus 2:23-3:15, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, Mark 9:14-29
Today’s reading from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is frequently read at weddings because it beautifully describes the characteristics of love:
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.
This passage is actually not about romantic love at all, but about the type of love we as Christians are to practice at all times. It is the type of love Christ had for us, and which we are called to reflect into the world.
We are going to fail.
But Paul also assures us: “Love never ends.”
True Christian love is not a feeling we generate and maintain. We are not its source. Rather, this love comes from God and moves through us. It does not require us to feel affection. It does require us to treat others as Christ would have us do… even when we’d rather be doing anything else.
There is no patience without agitation. No peacemaking without strife. Kindness to our loved ones is no great virtue, but offering kindness when it doesn’t come easily – that is love. The love Paul describes does not require us to be emotionally perfected robots, but recognizes we are naturally irritable, resentful beings who can overcome our lesser impulses by relying on God.
The heart of love is humility. Not a humility which debases or degrades us, but one which trusts God more than our own feelings, intellect, and desires. A humility which bears and endures all things, because it is grounded in God’s love for us, as demonstrated by Jesus on the cross.
When our attempts to love are less than perfect, let’s remember there is always a chance to do better. Let’s be as patient and kind with ourselves as God is. Accepting God’s love is how we learn to love others.
Faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
Comfort: Love is always available for you to give and receive.
Challenge: Find ways to love people you do not like.
Prayer: Gracious and merciful God, thank you for loving me and teaching me to love. May I follow Christ at all times, and follow his loving example. Amen.
Discussion: Does your ability to express Christian love depend on your feelings? When have you been able to express love in spite of your emotions?
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