First Corinthians 13:4-7 – Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things.
The most important core value of the Christian faith is love. Love involves commitment and concern for the well-being of everything and everyone to which we are attached. To what are we attached then? Some people say that our connection extends to the entire universe and everything in it. We are reminded in the Christian community on Ash Wednesday that we were made from dust, and it is to dust that we shall return. In the scientific community there is a more technical word for dust – that word is carbon. Science has revealed carbon to be the fourth most abundant element in the universe, and the building block for all of life on earth. Carbon circulates through the land, the ocean, and the atmosphere, and it attaches every single thing in existence. This attachment is evidenced throughout the Bible, but nowhere more so than in Psalm 148 where community is universal and God is praised by the animate and the inanimate alike.
But without love, our universal community is chaotic; because it is love that leads to the unity and the well-being of all that is attached. As Mother Teresa once said: “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” When we forget that we belong to each other, we forget how to love; and when we forget how to love, we come apart. Paul once gave a very elegant and concise guide on how to love, yet even the church is filled with division and conflict and many of us are wondering, where is the love?
It would seem then that the most important mission of the church is to embody love so that we might return to wholeness and unity. When we are out of love we are no longer committed to and concerned for the well-being of our attachment. But when we return to the basics of love we begin to reintegrate, first inwardly, and then outwardly to everyone and everything around us. Where is the love? It is within all of us, and it begins with me. When I practice patience and kindness, I practice love. When I say no to my own jealousies; when I stop myself from bragging; when I quit with the arrogance already, I am seeking the path of love. Love is not rude, so I pay attention to what I am doing and I do not cut someone off on the interstate, or in conversation. I don’t seek to promote myself or become cranky when I am not receiving the recognition I feel that I deserve. I don’t keep score of who has wronged me but instead I practice forgiveness. I am truthful, and I put up with, trust, hope for, and endure all things because I am in love with God and God’s creation; and I don’t want to see it come apart. I am part of the church; and the mission of love is my mission. We do it together, but if I wish for a return to love then it begins with me.