Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13
This Tuesday will be Valentine’s Day, a day reserved for romantic love. I picked this passage because I first encountered it on the wall of my first girlfriend. She had this passage pinned up. I loved it immediately. This is the type of love I wanted, that I desired. This passage is simply beautiful and it is recited at many weddings.
This is a great verse to think about romantic love, but Paul is more concerned in this letter with the congregational community of the Corinth church. Let’s be honest Paul wasn’t especially known to be a romantic in his personal life.
Let’s look at where this passage appears in First Corinthians. It is Chapter 13. Right before this passage, in chapter 12, Paul is talking about spiritual gifts and right after this passage in chapter 14 he talks about gifts of prophecy and tongues. He is laying the framework for how individuals can and do contribute to a church, to a community.
How can we love each other? How can we show this love, this devotion to each other, to our community?
There are many ways. One of the communities that show this kind of devotion is the block I live on in south Minneapolis. Last week, as I was traveling as part of my ministry, one neighbor took my daughter to school, another neighbor came over to help my partner with a clogged drain, and yet another neighbor had them over for dinner. That is love. That is service to others.
We have given back to our neighbors in the same way. We have kids over, make meals for each other, get groceries when they are sick. This is how we love each other in community. We are patient and kind with our neighbors.
How do you love your community? How do you as a congregation love your neighbors?
One of my passions in the last few years is to talk about vocational discernment. I will be leading a workshop on this topic after the service today. I love this topic. One of the quotes that I share in the workshop is from the late Baptist minister Howard Thurman “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Vocation is about finding out your gifts and what makes you feel alive. In a career driven capitalist world, vocation is often confused as what you do for a job. But vocation is really about what you give life and meaning, as Thurman states “what makes you come alive”.
What gives you life and meaning today doesn’t necessarily give you life and meaning in ten years, so in the workshop we will talk about tools you can use to discern where to go now and in the future.
So… how does this vocational discernment work relate to loving our community? Isn’t the concept of vocation a personal endeavor?
Whenever we are truly alive, it is infectious. Happiness is infectious. It can also inspire others to be bold.
For example when I talk about this work, my face lights up and I feel energized. People have noticed this in my own life. I feel more capable of being present with my loved ones.
When we are happy and passionate, the work we do, whether it is through a fulltime job, or sometime we do a couple hours a week, creates beauty in this world. Fulfilled people are not usually hateful or spiteful.
To create God’s Kingdom here on earth, we need people who have energy to love their community deeply. We need this energy in a world hungry for people who are passionate about healing our collective wounds, about creating hope, and about working towards a better future. We need people to do their own part, no matter what it is. We need to be alive to do this?
This coming week, reflect on: What do you love? How do you love?
And lastly what makes you come alive?
May you connect with your passions and go forth today practicing love to your neighbors near and far!