If I Don’t Have Love.

Hello friends,

Our scripture lesson for this week may be familiar to you if you’ve ever attended a wedding. Young couples often choose this passage from Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church. We often associate it with gentle music, floral images, and loving couples.

Only problem, that’s not what it was about.

Paul writes to the church at Corinth because they were having conflict. They puffed themselves up about who had the “best” spiritual gifts. I imagine Paul angrily writing his first draft of this letter. The Corinthian church has missed the point. None of the good things the members of the budding church do matter if they’re not done in, through, and with love.

As you prayerfully read the scripture, consider the things that you do out of obligation or out of a sense of responsibility or for any other reason besides love.

Do you angrily clean up after others? Do you continue doing something in the church or elsewhere begrudgingly? Do you fail to do it in love because you need to change your own attitude? Maybe you fail to do it in love because your spiritual gifts no longer suit the task. What if it is time to give that responsibility up and pursue another outlet for your spiritual gifts?

Tim

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1:1-14:1a

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.

14:1a Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts.

Copyright © 1989 NRSV
Words of Wisdom

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.”  –Mahatma Gandhi

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“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” –Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

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The Joy of Small Churches

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Friends,

We live in a breathtaking area of the country. The big skies, the yellows, the pale greens, and the flowers in the spring keep us connected to the earth in ways that city living can never do.

I’m reminded of this as I journey between Condon and Maggie’s apartment in Tualatin with its endless retail and traffic. You can buy just about anything you want in Tualatin if you have the money.

But you can’t buy the quiet of a canyon.

You can’t buy the connectedness of a small community like Condon. Small communities offer things big cities cannot.

The same is true of big and small churches. Big churches with their bands and large choirs, the multitude of study groups, and the large staff are a lot like the big city. You can get just about anything you want except…

You can’t get knowing everyone’s name. You can’t get the closeness that allows anyone who wants, to be a  part of decisions. You can’t get the deep relationships between people grounded in a place.

Over 80% of the churches in our nation are small. That means that God is doing most of God’s ministry in places like the Condon UCC. God doesn’t expect us to do it all, only our part of the puzzle. No, we can’t do the big, flashy, grandiose ministries that a big church can but is that what you really want?

Please pray each day this month not that we should become something we’re not — a big church — rather pray that we do the ministry in our community that only we can do. Pray that we continue to matter and make Condon and Gilliam County a better place to live.

See you Sunday,

Tim