Advent Reflection: 1 Corinthians 13

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

I think I've read, studied, preached, and memorized this scripture more than any other because of weddings, premarital counseling and preaching. Its original intent was not really meant to be a "wedding passage" in a similar way that Psalm 23 (The Lord is my shepherd...) was not meant to be a "memorial service passage."

It's a passage about love demonstrated within a church that was competitive, argumentative, arrogant, and struggling to distinguish Christian love from any other kind of love being talked about or experienced in first century Corinth. In chapter 12 Paul writes to the church about spiritual gifts and the concept of the body. The body has many parts, all with different functions that are necessary for it to function in a healthy and productive way. In the first three verses of chapter thirteen, Paul says the great gifts of faith, prophecy and generosity are nothing without love. Love is the engine, heart and fountain of the church. If there is no love, might as well close down shop. 

But Paul's letter to the church in Corinth gives opportunity to describe a new kind of love. A love that is not primarily known as a feeling, but as an action. Jesus told the disciples to love one another "as I have loved you." And he says the greatest love is laying down your life for your friend. The greatest images of Jesus' ministry is not captured in what he felt (although he wept, felt compassion, got angry) but what he did: he taught and healed the outcast and sick, washed feet of his followers, ate with sinners, hung on the cross. This list describes Jesus' love and the love Paul wanted the church to grow into. 

does not envy
does not boast
not proud
does not dishonor others
not self-seeking
not easily angered
keeps no record of wrongs
does not delight in evil 
rejoices with the truth
always protects
always trusts
always hopes
always perseveres

Patient. Not a great one to start with. I took a picture of the sunset last night at Moonlight Beach as a reminder that my son and daughter-in-law are coming home for Christmas. They lived two blocks away from this beach. I can't wait for them to come tonight. I can't wait for the family to be together this next week. I can't wait... I say that a lot. It was the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen from that location and I received it as a gift. And Advent is a time of waiting, anticipating with the gifts of love, hope, joy, peace. 

So, this is a great little list to see how I love, especially as I celebrate Christ's birth, and as I reflect on this last year of how I've grown and look forward to a new year with hopes and dreams of how I might change.
Advent is a time of longing. It's almost over. What am I longing to become? How does the love of Jesus help me reflect with grace on this last year, and focus with hope on the new year? 

Oh holy Child of Bethlehem! Descend to us, we pray; Cast out the sin and enter in, Be born in us today. We hear the Christmas angels, The great glad tidings tell; Oh come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Immanuel! 


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