The Way of Love
Powerful, poetic and life changing words...
They were read last Saturday at Mystic United by Frances Jones at the celebration for her brother Stan Black, and the next day at the wedding of Cara and Yves at SouthWest. They are one of the most exquisite definitions of what love is and are based on how God in Jesus has loved us: with focus, assertiveness and sacrifice.
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
(The Message, 1 Corinthians 13: 1,2,3-7.)
"Keeps going to the end.”
I like that.
As I end 20 years of ministry with SouthWest (I am very conscious that I arrived when I was 39) the message Paul wrote to the congregation at Corinth resonates deeply. It roots me in the incarnation of love, of giving and receiving, of blessing and being blessed, of celebrating life and mourning deeply. It carries us from endings into new beginnings.
This poem invites each of us to be better than our natural inclinations. It models how Jesus lived, died and rose again : Love as I have loved you. (John 15: 12-15).
My role is to incarnate love in words and deeds, in prayers and celebration. There has been community, worship and ministry before me and there will be after.
Emmanuel is celebrating 175 years of ministry with an afternoon service and Gospel concert June 9th. A long history of love in action.
Beryl Barraclough, a Designated Lay Minister, will begin her ministry July 1st at SouthWest and will be a wonderful pastor. I will preach every Sunday in July and August at Emmanuel and root myself slowly in this new context. I am also determined to start a new garden and anticipate many hours toiling the soil.
In all our endings and new beginnings we live this ideal of love.
In the following chapter (14:1) Paul begins with these words: Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it—because it does!
What a great exhortation for each of us.
The quality of our lives is measured by how we love.