I wonder if there are any songs about love that we could sing this week? And if there were a few, could we find them? Sorry, just kidding. Of course, there are. Probably more than almost anything else we could think of. Even in the world of secular music, love dominates as the preferred subject for singing. So, let’s sing about love this week – about a love that never ends, which for most is only a dream; but within the faith, it is a promise.
Does it feel cliché to focus on love in worship? Does it seem that we might need something more profound? Actually, there isn’t anything more profound than love as the determining force that motivates all that we do as the church. It begins, of course, with the desire to love God more. We’re called to love with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. That seems pretty all encompassing. Can we honestly say that we love God with that kind of passion and fervor? Can we say that all our thoughts each and every day are, “How can I show love to God today? In this decision? In this action? With these words?” Let’s pray for the Spirit to open us up to this loving power and desire.
And then to love our neighbor as ourselves. Some point out that loving ourselves is key to this formula. That may be true; we are called to see ourselves as worth something in God’s community we call the church. We do matter, as we’ve reflected before. And now the call is to love our neighbor as though they were us, our own flesh and blood, our own bodies. Do we love like that? Do we examine our own behaviors not just for what is good for us, but for what is good for the community around us, or for the world? Environmental concerns are a way of loving our neighbor; measuring our impact on the planet, the only home we all have, is an expression of love.
Then we have the amazing and extensive description of love in our text for today. Even at our best, do we measure up to this picture of love? Even with those closest to us, let alone the neighboring world around us, we can all ask to be more loving, as the song says, not just in our hearts, but in our hands and our words, and our intentions. This is a high calling, not a soft response to the neediness of the world in which we live, let alone the demands of a holy life. We pray for help, for Spirit-empowered wisdom to love like this.
So, as we worship, let us sing about loving; let us pray to be more loving; let us hear stories of powerful and transforming love, all with the intention of shaping our everyday lives along the pattern Paul describes in I Corinthians 13.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.