Psalms 71: 1-6
1 Corinthians 13: 1–11

January 30, 2022

[1]Love, love, love … Love, love, love … love, love, love. Nothing that you can do that cannot be done. Nothing that you can sing that can’t be sung. Nothing that you can say … but you can learn how to play the game.”

Love … friends, the Scripture lesson of today is one that you have heard over and over again as an essential element of wedding ceremonies but Paul was not writing about weddings. In fact, no where in Scripture is there any association with the current concept of a marriage ceremony with elaborate and expensive receptions to follow that put newly wed couples or their parents with a major cost to their bank accounts.

The love Paul writes about is closely related to the love that Jesus Christ has mandated God’s people accept and understand and then implement. What Paul does in his letter to the Corinthians is to spell out the process … the value … and the challenge.

What another Paul, this time Mr. McCartney and a non-Biblcal man named John, Mr Lennon, wrote in their popular tune crafted for the Beatles back in the 1960’s could easily be turned into a hymn of the church because when we have love … love of God … love of all of our neighbors … when we have love we truly can sing any song of life and we can live as God intended us to live.

I believe that until we understand … accept and then incorporate the love of Scriptures into our lives that we cannot be fully incorporated into the community of the faithful. And, as we continue our journey forward … forward from the pandemic’s worst years … forward from the days when we thought that using political attacks, vile and obscene words against those whose politics we disagree with, the times when we blame the poor for being poor and the times in which we discarded any human whose image didn’t match ours in the mirror … we move forward and away from those human sins because as people of faith, we are called to leave what is behind (Especially hours of snow shoveling and complaining about the beautiful snow that fell this week..) … as Christians friends, we move forward, always forward forgetting what is behind and realizing we cannot change it but we strive to connect more with God … or at at least we should be striving to connect more … straining as Paul writes, “toward what is ahead, pressing on toward the goal of winning the prize, which God calls us heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

That is your goal … right? Heaven with God and Jesus Christ? The ultimate prize … after last Sunday, we all again realize that you and your team don’t need a Lombardi Trophy to fully live life … no wasted hours in Los Angeles or glued to the TV desperately putting your life’s energy in the actions of multimillionaires you will probably never even be in the same room with in order to live life. Look what God has given us … beautiful snow to create angels in so that we can sense the joy of heaven when we will join the heavenly stadium full of angels …

And, consider again on this day what God has provided to you and to me … a Savior, Jesus Christ whose life encompassed the very meaning to love of God and love of all of our neighbors. Today, we need to consider that if we consider ourselves the faithful … if we call ourselves the believers in God and in Jesus Christ … if we want to be considered followers of Jesus Christ not by merely adorning ourselves with an adjective Christian but truly by stepping up to be on that Holy Highway cleared of worldly obstacles that lead us heavenward in Christ Jesus then friends … we need to be healed of the world’s challenges; we need to want … we need to strive to receive … we need to regularly be asking God to receive the healing of the faithful and it all begins in and with love.

God’s love is apparent … God’s love is clear … ALL of humanity, even those whom in your past you discarded, dismissed, or ‘dissed’ were created equally in the image of the Holy just as you and I were. Our DNA, our history, our national citizenship, our primary language, our wealth or lack of wealth do not make us better nor worse than another. Perhaps that is where the healing needs to begin …

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 it’s own advantage, it isn’t happy with injustice but it is happy with THE TRUTH.”

Now, do I you agree with me that those few words from God’s Holy Book are an interesting challenge … imagine for a second if all of our leaders followed those directives … heck, imagine for a minute if 25% of our leaders even considered following those words of what God expects. Putting an end to “childish things” where you try to brag about your name, your wealth and what side you are on …. Imagine if we really saw the reflection in the mirror that God keeps track of … imagine what a better world this would be if everyone joined in but the world rejects love with regularity … the world embraces itself and desperately needs its trophy prizes and power whereas we need to embrace the psalmist, “In YOU O Lord, I have taken refuge … IN YOU LORD … YOU GOD are my hope ….”

Here at St. Paul’s we call the fifth Sunday in a month, which occurs quarterly to be a “healing Sunday” and we consider our friends dealing with a wide range of health issues … today we consider those who are alone and lonely as we prepare to send cards to Gloria Lee … I have been impressed how many people in pre-COVID times would come forward to be anointed with oil … to pray with me … to be at the front of God’s church here in West Deptford … the urge, the inner sense of a need to be rescued from the world.

The world does want to get in our way … the world wants to put roadblocks to our faith and when we embrace the world’s anti-love concepts then we need to be healed friends. In James we read, “If anyone is happy … let him sing.” Truthfully, I don’t hear many people out in the world singing songs of praise to God … are we not happy in our faith? Or as James writes, “Are we in trouble?” Because if we are trouble then we need to call on the “elders of the church to pray over us … and yes anoint us with oil in the name of the Lord.” The faithful need to be healed with great regularity so we can get out in the world showing the love of the faithful that this world needs. We need to put what’s behind … we need to stop being a worldly “clanging gong or clashing cymbal” where love vanishes.

Now, I will tell you that the world does tempt us to join them … last night, at about 9:30 the plow came down the street in Smithville but it failed to clear out 20 feet or more in front of my driveway and my neighbors’ … so out I went to shovel to insure that in the morning I could get here to church. I was so proud of these tired muscles … I cleared our the ends of both driveways …. Sometime during the night the street plow returned and living on a cul de sac means … well it means snow plows have to push snow up against lawns but the plow drive last night decided to push the huge pile of snow in front of Scott’s one garage door and partially filling up what I had shoveled last night leaving about a 4 foot opening for me to push through … let’s just say I was a clanging gong with my thoughts towards that plow guy …. Scott is probably just waking up now to find the community’s plow has totally blocked his one car from getting out … ooo I can tell you I wasn’t singing “Love, Love, Love …”

But truthfully, I was wrong … I was angry … I was frustrated … I rammed my car through that snow knowing I had to get hear because I had heard rumors of an early dismissal if the pastor was snowed in plus as a Buffalonian I have a snow loving reputation to uphold but friends the world can get you in a moment’s flash just like it got me this morning and that’s when we again need to experience the “healing of the faithful.”

We need to focus in on God’s love for us … we need to remember Christmas not for the tree but for the “O Come All Ye Faithful, joyful and triumphant” … we need to remember “On a hill faraway sat an old rugged cross; the emblem of suffering and shame” … we need to remember “Praise Him, Praise Him Jesus our blessed redeemer Sing O earth His wonderful love proclaim!”

If you want to consider yourself to be amongst the faithful … if you identify yourself as a believer in Jesus Christ … if when you pause for the one hour of worship on Sunday’s or during your devotions, prayer time and Scripture reading you tell God that you are God and God is yours then you need to embrace the love God provides … you need to answer the love God gives by living as a person committed to love, which means you need to quickly go home today or if you are at home then after this service … you need to read First Corinthians 13 this time not as thinking what a wonderful reference point for weddings but instead as the anointment of God today that will being about healing in your life.

“If you are giving away everything that God has taught so that you can feel good in this world and reject loving God first and then loving all of you loving all of you neighbors” then friends you WILL HAVE NOTHING when it is all said and done … you will NOT BE HEALED and will sense the world’s power to overwhelm you and take you down.

If you are not going to God as your rock and your fortress when you sense issues that you can’t deal with … when you feel like posting something that demeans another God loved human being … if when you are hurting God is not your first choice then how in the world do you expect to be delivered from the grasp of this evil and cruel world?

Today, on this “healing Sunda,” I invite you to be rescued with me because I certainly need rescuing … pray to God for deliverance! Accept the salvation of God through Jesus Christ with joy and celebration making your salvation something you share rather than hideaway for church moments.

Remember love NEVER FAILS … Remember faith, hope, and love will always remains but the greatest of these is the lesson Jesus Taught … it is the expectation of God … LOVE, LOVE, LOVE … Love God and love all of your neighbors and brown down and ask to be healed as one of the faithful so that you can move forward leaving the past behind with a sense of renewal and energy you may have been missing for a long time! AMEN

[1] All You Need is Love, Lennon and McCartney

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