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From the Pastor's Desk

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a "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. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends." (NRSV)
It is understandable why these verses are read at most weddings that I conduct. They're a beautiful description of the loving relationship that is necessary in a marriage. But the meaning of these verses, and the whole passage, is much deeper than just a description of the ideal marriage relationship.
This chapter is part of a section of 1 Corinthians where Paul is speaking about spiritual gifts and their use. The operative word in that sentence is "gift." The love that Paul is speaking about here is not something that we can generate by sheer force of will because we think it's the right thing to do. It is "gift"--a gift of the Holy Spirit when we're connected to Christ.
When I was a kid my confirmation pastor told us that the best way to read this chapter is to substitute "Christ" for "love": "Christ is patient; Christ is kind...."  That puts the source of love in the right place--in the center of our relationship with God in Christ. We love because God first loved us.
By the way, we remember that Paul used a unique word here for love: Agape. It expresses not just warm feelings, but sacrificial giving of one's self to another. Exactly what Christ did for us. So another way of reading this chapter is to say "Sacrificial love is patient; sacrificial love is kind...." The bottom line...connect to Christ, connect to love! Only then can we be patient, kind, unselfish, humble children of God who rejoice in Truth and love our fellow humans with the enduring love of Christ. 
God bless,
Pastor Larry

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