Aloha Friday Message – February14, 2014 – Love Remains

1407AFC021414 – Love Remains

Read it online here, please.

KJV 1 Corinthians 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

BGT 1 Corinthians 13:13 Nuni. de. me,nei pi,stij( evlpi,j( avga,ph( ta. tri,a tau/ta\ mei,zwn de. tou,twn h` avga,phÅ

NAB 1 Corinthians 13:13 So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

NLT 1 Corinthians 13:13 There are three things that will endure– faith, hope, and love– and the greatest of these is love.

Today is Valentine’s Day, and many of us are looking forward to sending, sharing, or receiving that “little something special” from the person(s) we care about. If you’ve got kids in school, they probably bought a box of cards at Wal-Mart or maybe the grocery store, and they spent an hour or so filling in the names of classmates – making sure everyone got one and probably picking one special card for that one special person in the class. If your kids are teens, they’re probably taking things a little more seriously and are figuring out how to convey the romance without getting mired in the responsibilities. (Some of the grown-ups are in the same quagmire.) If you are middle-aged, you probably plan a nice dinner, some thoughtful gifts, and some romantic banter – or ever better, all three. And if you’re a lot older, you remember how great all of these things were, but you know they can’t hold a candle to being in love for decades and expecting to stay that way for decades more. And there are a few out there who, for whatever reason, carry a torch for an unrequited love. Whatever of these situations sounds like your life, Love remains.

I recently heard someone attribute a statement about carrying a torch to Mother Theresa of Calcutta. She allegedly said something like, “It’s not always enough to carry the torch; sometimes you have to be the torch.” Well, I don’t know that Mother Theresa actually said that, but it is something that makes a lot of sense anyway. If we become the torch, or candle, or wick, or lantern that carries the flame, our lives become the fuel that nurtures the flame and its light and warmth.  (Look back to July 11, 2008 for details.) When our lives are consumed by and through giving Light to others, we are living a life worth living. When our life’s energies are spent on searching for our best self inside our own consciousness, regrettably that is all we are likely to find – our best self. I say “regrettably” because there is so much more to be found in life, so many, many more things that are worth searching for with dazzling diligence; and none of that luminous treasure is found solely inside one’s self. This is, in my mind and heart, the foundational truth of all relationships. We are created to be more than “self.” To be real, to be alive, to be fully human we must also be “other” to another human. Because of this, Love remains.

I think probably everyone who reads this essay will recognize the Bible verse quoted, and know that it comes from “The Chapter of Love” in St. Paul’s Epistle to the Church in Corinth. It comes kind of in the middle of a discourse about Spiritual Gifts. In 1 Corinthians 12: 4-7, Paul says, Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. He continues from there to talk about One Body with Many Members and describes the Church as The Body of Christ. He is encouraging the Church in Corinth to recognize that, just as all parts of our bodies function as an integrated whole with each part doing that for which it was created, so also each of us in the Body of Christ must function as God created us by integrating our gifts – our God-given functionalities if you will – into the Body of Christ, The Church. In doing this, we fulfill God’s plan – not only for our own lives but also for the lives of all others with whom we interact; all the others who make the reality of this life feasible for your personhood or my personhood are the very reason that Love remains.

But love does not, perhaps cannot, remain and remain alone. What Paul tells us, right after describing our interdependence on one another and how the use of that interdependence gives glory to God, is that there is a more excellent way. (Please follow this link to 1 Corinthians 12:27-31) Paul’s message is that there are tons of gifts from God that are essential to the Church – and by extension to the World as well – and all of them are worthy, wonderful, welcomed gifts when used for the Glory of God. Not every person will receive or be able to use “the Big Gifts;” but, there are three distinct and precious gifts everyone can receive which are so HUGE and ASTONISHING that all of us should have them! They are summarized in today’s verse: faith, hope, love remain. When these three gifts are received with due respect for the authenticity of the giver, then these three gifts are absolutely amazing because they are also life-sustaining. Genuine Faith does not break; baseless faith is easily broken. Genuine Hope is never lost; ambitious hope is hubris and is easily lost. Genuine 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. No matter what happens to Faith, or Hope, or any other Spiritual Gift, Love remains.

We’ve discussed the various types of love and the words that describe them in the past. The kind of Love Paul is talking about – the only word he uses in this chapter – is the word I underlined in the Greek rendition of this text: ἀγάπη – agape. We know that word to refer to “unconditional love.” It is the kind of love to which we yearn to aspire. We want to be the kind of person who can love like that because that is how we want to be loved – without condition, without judgment, without reserve, without end, because that is the Love with which God created us and it is the Love to which he intends us to return. It is the Love that is the beginning of everything eternal because Love never ends. Why? How can that be? Surely all of us remember when someone we loved as expansively as our lives would allow rejected or betrayed or even ignored that love. It is a pain all of us know, all of us have felt, and – if we are honest – all of us have caused. How can it be, then, that love never ends? Human love does end when we die, or becomes corrupted when we deceive, or is perverted to something which is the antithesis of love. Human love is imperfect, but Divine Love is not, and that is the Love Paul points us toward. We all know that we love imperfectly – ourselves, one another, even God – all are loved imperfectly by us. Nonetheless, when it’s all over, it is the Love we shared which will survive for all Eternity because Love never ends. Love never ends because God is Love and so we readily see, Love remains.

Some of us have amazing stories of Love in our lives – parents, children, spouses, other relatives, friends, pastors and priests, all of whom are other humans created in the image and likeness of God; created in, by, through, and for Love. Whatever action we take, then, to make loving each other more and more like Divine Love, is the kind of action that is more and more like what God intends love to be – Eternal, beautiful, complete, peaceful, faith-affirming, hope-fulfilling, life-confirming – and as we move through our lives toward that, Love remains.

As you know, Crucita and I retired at the end of last year. We’ve got just over a month of this new life called retirement behind us now. It is a whole new adventure! We haven’t lived with each other 168 hours a week for over 30 years, and there is much to learn about living and loving in this new arrangement. Marriage is our Vocation. In a Christ-centered home like ours, God is – literally – in the middle of everything! It’s a good thing, too, because sometimes one or the other of us wants to be in the middle of everything. Those are the times when tensions rise and tempers flare. But, Love remains. We are committed to something larger than us and outside of us; we are committed to Love because we are committed to God and God is Love. We’re working on our Vocation – as we always have – by learning to live and love one another in this “new relationship.” We’re using this new time together to tackle things that our formerly-too-busy lives left undone: Cleaning and repairing things that we’ve let slide for … years! Talking about times and friends and moments that we now have time to talk about. Just being together is a whole new gig because we are basically out of practice for that. It is a wonderful opportunity to explore – together – the vocation we chose 45 years ago. It is wonderful because each day we find that, no matter how the day has gone, Love remains.

Happy Valentine’s and my Very Best Love to my Crucita, and to all of you whom I also love, may you always be blessed with a life in which Love remains.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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