“Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end.” -1 Corinthians 13:8
I found it interesting that in some of the translations of this passage, the word “charity” is used in place of “love.” The implication would seem to be that good acts have a more enduring quality than prophecy, proclamation, or knowledge. I’m not sure that I believe that, but I do believe that while the good that we do has a ripple effect that travels much further than we can imagine, the power of love supersedes all things. This is not to put agape ahead of gnosis, but rather to accept that love is God’s being, and nothing is more enduring than God. Trusting this in our daily lives is for me the definition of “faith.”
Lord, you surround me with your love. Give me the wisdom to discern it, the language to share it, and the faith to trust always in it until I return to you. Amen.
“[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” -1 Corinthians 13:7
Today, eleven years ago in the early hours of the morning, my son Daniel James Kibler was delivered by emergency c-section after I developed HELLP Syndrome in order to save both of our lives. I have spoken in previous devotions about the PTSD and emotional pain that arose from the circumstances of that week, but I want to share today about the incredible agape shown to me and my family during that time.
A parishioner of my former husband’s heard of Daniel’s birth and knew my former husband was out of town, so she raced down to Great Falls to be with me and hung out in the waiting room on the maternity floor all day in case I needed someone with me.
The church where my former husband was preparing to interview sent us flowers and a few members sent baby presents. We did not end up at that parish, but I have never forgotten their generosity.
My former husband’s parishioners sent so many flowers to me that every surface of my room with the exception of parts of the floor and bed were covered. We gave the best flowers to the nurses when we left, and the rest were flowers put on the altar on Easter Sunday.
Our ELCA bishop rushed to be at my side when my husband called the synod office to let her know. My first lucid memory after Daniel’s birth is of her stroking my hand and explaining to me gently that I had just had a baby.
My mom’s co-workers all over the world on multiple continents asked if they could pray for us. Their prayers spanned 5 continents and 3 major religions.
My Facebook friends all put me on the prayer lists of their churches and put out the word for their friends to do the same. Almost eleven years later, I still have people who contact me and tell me that they were praying for me at that time.
We were told by Daniel’s neonatologist that Daniel had an 80% chance of survival. My former husband wanted to baptize him, but I was terrified of doing it out of fear that something would happen to him if we did. (In my defense, PTSD and postpartum depression do not do great things to one’s reasoning.) My agnostic mother was the tie-breaking vote, reminding me that Daniel was a fighter and the baptism would be a celebration of that. We baptized him on April 10th, which was Good Friday. The pictures from the baptism remain favorites of mine, especially the one with my husband’s hand and my tiny bruised hand touching Daniel and praying for him.
Lord, thank you for the ways in which your people show love to others in times of crisis. Help us to remember that we all belong to each other and that we need to walk with one another in times like this. Amen.
Here is our Holy Week schedule. Specific posts with the bulletin, Zoom link, other pertinent links, and instructions will be posted daily on Thursday-Sunday. (We promise.) Worship services on Thursday-Sunday will be posted on Facebook and on our live stream page within two hours of worship ending.
“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.” -1 Corinthians 13:4-6
This is what God’s love looks like, St. Paul writes. And this is what God’s love doesn’t look like. Familiar and beloved as this passage is, I had never before noticed how much more Paul tells us what love isn’t compared to what love is. But it makes sense. Paul was writing to a fractious church whose diversity was an excuse for negative community-wounding behavior.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the nations, all the peoples of the world, took this passage to heart and chose love? Of if we, in our little community of St. Paul’s, grew more and more into God’s love as Paul reveals it? And, not to miss the point, if the writer of this passage you are now reading learned finally to be authentically patient and kind? Can this child of God put aside all envy, boastfulness, arrogance, rudeness, insistence on my own way, resentment, rejoicing in wrongdoing? Can God’s love live without God’s truth?
I’ve got work to do. Holy work. Thanks, St. Paul!
Lord, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing: send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts your greatest gift, which is love. We pray this in the name of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Zoom link for worship this morning is [redacted]. Follow the prompts and you will join the meeting. You will be muted when you sign on to prevent background noise from making it difficult for others to hear. Note: you can still log on with your computer and select audio rather than video if you don’t have a camera, or don’t want to be seen. Also, you can log on with either audio or video using a smartphone and the Zoom link.
If you do not have a camera or do not wish to join by video, you can always dial in on your phone. The number is [redacted].
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Select “Give to a church” from the drop-down menu for “Giving Options”. Enter St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Mount Vernon for the “Designated Parish Name” and “Designated Parish City”. (This is important because there is more than one “St. Paul’s Episcopal Church” in the diocese.)
If you are confused by this, here is a YouTube video showing how to fill out the form.
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St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
415 S. 18th St.
Mount Vernon, WA 98274
“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” -1 Corinthians 13:1-3
This seems like a strange passage to be reading today, but we are looking at 1 Corinthians 13 this week, and we have to start somewhere.
Looking at today’s Gospel passage regarding the entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11, for those who are interested), the thing that is striking to me about today is how completely opposite Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem was from the triumphal entry of Caesar or any major general who is flaunting their power or coming in to conquer the occupying forces. They came in atop war horses with trumpeters and standard bearers. In contrast, Jesus comes in riding atop a donkey. Those crowds who entered ahead of him proclaimed his entrance like they would someone entering atop a warhorse, but what they were shouting aloud was completely different. “Hosanna” comes from a Hebrew word that means “rescue” or “save”, so they were effectively calling on Jesus to rescue them from something.
The generals atop their warhorses are the antithesis of those with agape in their hearts. Their conquests were all about glory or power for themselves or for their country. Their words are all about their own glory—quite like a “noisy gong” or “clanging cymbal” to the ears of those they were conquering. Jesus spoke words of agape, words that show care or concern for those he came to save. It is a remarkable difference.
Thank you, Lord, for speaking words that show love and concern for those you came to save—who happen to be us still today. Amen.