1 Corinthians 13:1-13

1 Corinthians 13:1-13
"And I will show you a still more excellent way." In this familiar and beloved poem on love, Paul says, "Let me pull back the curtain a bit and let you in on a fantastic vision of life as prepared for you by the Spirit of God." The only thing that is up to such a task is poetry. It is that overall poetic conception and the beauty of its structures and rhythms, too often reserved just for weddings, that still capture the imagination of hearers. Take time once again just to read and let its images fill your senses.

"I will show you," Paul says. This is the language of epiphany, of revelation. Paul holds out a vision of community that is not about a project to be completed, but about a new possibility that captivates and motivates by the power and the promise of God's Spirit in Christ Jesus. To love truly, Paul says, is "to know just as I have been known." Ultimately, it is about knowing a person "face to face" and a reflection of our having first been known and caught up in the love of God. The invitation is to a journey in which the experience of Christian community is a perfect reflection of the love which God has first shown us in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord.

O God of Love, open our eyes to grasp, if only faintly, a vision of that love you have shown us in Jesus Christ our Lord; and empower us to reflect that love as we seek to journey faithfully in community with our neighbors. Amen.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (NRSV)

1 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.

2 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.

3 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.

4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant

5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;

6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.

7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 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.

9 For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part;

10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end.

11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.

12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

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