This is probably the most familiar chapter in the Bible. Sure, there are individual verses which ring our bells – John 3:16, Philippians 2:14, Genesis 1:1, John 1:1, but as a chapter it is a competition in between 1 Corinthians 13 and Psalm 23. These chapters are so familiar because they tend to mark turning points in our lives – 1 Corinthians 24 for weddings and Psalm 23 for funerals. They are the old standards. And, like Christmas songs which become so familiar we don’t even hear them, these standards of the Bible can be hard to hear fresh for the first time.
I invite you to imagine you’ve never heard it before.
Paul is still writing to the church in conflict. We’ve heard chapter 12 in worship the last two weeks, and this is Paul’s expansion of the call to seeing each other as important and valuable. Love, he argues, is the motivating factor, the source of our ability to get along despite of, or perhaps because of, our diversity and disagreements.
And so, maybe using this verse at a wedding is missing the point.
Love isn’t something the people in the wedding are able to just create. It is, Paul argues, a force of its own, an active participant in our relationships with one another. Love isn’t passive or idle. It pushes its way around, throwing elbows if necessary.
We can’t control Love. We can nurture it, feed it, embrace it, but we can’t create or dismiss it. Love is.
The source matters. The root from which the plant grows matters. So, we can put our seed in a soil created and cultivated by love. We can stand in the slipstream love creates as it goes by. We can throw our sail up and catch love to power our boat.
Or we can try to do it ourselves. But that victory will be empty and short-lived. We simply can’t sustain the momentum of a God life without the power of Love.
Outcomes only matter, the ends only stick if they are motivated and sparked by love. Love is the energy behind all of our gifts, all of our offerings to God, all of our joining together as a community of Faith and Hope.
We can’t survive without love. But we can do grow towards it if we point ourselves towards it.
Love is force of its own. Let’s chase it.