1 Cor 13:1-13; CPC Commerce, GA; January 31, 2016
My eldest daughter is truly captivated by stories--Fairy stories and mermaid stories are some of her favorite--and most are interwoven with themes of love. Last night’s was of an 11th century Irish farm boy who was out staring at the stars one evening when a band of jolly miniature marauders swept him up and carried him off to a party for the princess of France who was to marry a man she did not love. So, the farm boy and his miniature friends kidnap her, which they feel is better for her, and bring her back to Ireland. And somehow this princess is grateful, and so she falls in love with the farm boy and they live happily ever after.
How romantic...I guess. quite strange really.
From an early age stories are what shape our lives and inspire our living.
On our visit to D.C. we visited the King Memorial on Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. My girls were mesmerized by what the heard and saw of his story.
In the book shop we picked up a story about a little girl named Ruby--the first black girl to go to an all white public school in New Orleans...in the face of parents who protested her presence and even boycotted by not sending their own children to the school, Ruby, my daughter, asked me: Why didn’t they want her at their school?
Ruby, a real child of the 60s, attended day after day, and each day she prayed for those who did not want her there. Eventually they accepted her and returned to school.
Our lives and living is our own story unfolding. How is your story being told? Is it a love story?
We are gathered here this morning because we have been inspired, even transformed by the story of one man, and his example of living. His was a life marked by service and sacrifice. His was a life motivated by love--love of God and love of neighbor. I hope you know who I’m talking about.
It was his life that inspired groups of people to establish a Church in his name.
It is the story of his faithful followers who have inspired others, generation after generation, to continue to gather and seek to follow his example over the centuries.
We call ourselves Christians--followers of Christ.
SLIDE: And over time stories of Christians are told.
Some of these stories are stories of Francis and his love of nature and service to the poor;
stories of Theresa and her love for the outcast and orphans…
stories of Christian families in Nazi Germany who housed Jews in the face of persecution
Even today it can be easy to find stories of Christians whose lives are truly about loving service, I saw it when I dropped off our food donations at the food bank on Friday…
Stories are told of those who have done less than loving actions--stories of Crusades and Inquisitions.
And there are stories of those who claim to do things because of their Christian faith which has gained the church a reputation as being hypocritical, homophobic, judgmental, and irrelevant.
How is our story being told?
How are we following along the way of Jesus?
Is our story a love story?
The Apostle Paul in early churches he helped guide, saw how easy it can be for those who gather in Jesus’ name to lose our way.
It was happening even just one generation removed from the early disciples.
Paul uses words to describe what is going on in that early church:
words like envy, because this is what the Corinthians had (3:3); boasting, this is what Corinthians do (4:7; 5:6); Puffed up, the Corinthians are (4;6)
People grappling over positions of power and authority.
People bickering over who was truly worthy to be admitted into their company.
And so Paul writes one of the most well known and beloved passages from the Holy Scriptures, in which he describes the most excellent way!
Love, Love, Love---it’s easy, so say the Beatles.
Well, not so fast, Paul McCartney and John Lennon.
the Apostle Paul is quick to fill in some blanks of what love is and what love isn’t:
Turns out, it may not be so easy….