God, grant us Your Holy Spirit with the love of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Text: First Corinthians 13:1-7
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Let us fervently yearn for love and not give up, but truly attain it. It is more important than everything else. It outshines everything in heaven and on earth, and it is eternal. It never fails, but shall unfold its glory and charm in the perfect world to come. Faith and hope shall cease when we can see God as He is, but love remains and there it shall “then shine brightly forever.” For God is love, and love is eternal bliss.
How poor are those who do not have love! How rich are those who love, even if they are the poorest people otherwise! How empty life is without love, but how full and beautiful with it! Love makes beggars into princes, huts into castles, and our passing possessions into eternal treasure. But all that you have is nothing without it. Your money, your jewels, your knowledge, your deeds – without love they are worth nothing. But if you love, and use your gifts in the service of love, then they all are beautiful and good and produce blessed fruit. Let love live and rule in you, and you possess all, are free from all, and servant of all. Love all with Christ’s love, and you will feel continual sorrow as long as you are on earth, and yet you live a blessed life. “Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised” (Son 8:7).
Yet, how should we, who ought to love, encourage one another to long for it? How can we sufficiently praise it? Let the Apostle speak: “Love is patient and kind.” (The words need no explanation, but let the Holy Spirit impress them on our soul. Let us keep and ponder them all in our heart!) “Love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Don’t you feel a burning desire within you to show love? But since you all have received its spark, then go and follow the Apostle’s words, and the holy fire shall be kindled, but through many temptations and struggles of faith. Do it, for love is worth it!
To this end grant us Your Holy Spirit, merciful God. Show us our selfishness; let it humble us. Pour out Christ’s love in our hearts, yes, pour out Christ’s love in our hearts by Your Holy Spirit. Amen.
The truest form of love
No pride does boast above,
But gladly will be humble
Nor cause the weak to stumble,
Has strength and great contentment,
Is gentle, kind, and patient.
The way the wicked go
True love can never know;
Love never seeks its own things,
No bitterness is owning,
Endures all evil speaking;
Love only peace is seeking.
Love hopes for ev’rything,
Bears patient ev’ry sting,
Believes all things worth knowing;
All lies love is foregoing;
Love honors without ceasing,
In goodness e’er increasing.
Brorson: Den ypperligste Vei L 463:7.8.10 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Auf meinen lieben Gott (ELH 467); alternate hymn: Come, O come, Thou quick’ning Spirit ELH 438:1