Epiphany 4


1 Corinthians 13: 1-13

Objects:   a wall hanging with the letters for love, connected by string. a ball of yarn

I have a wall hanging here that you can obviously see, spells out the word:  LOVE.   I bought this wall hanging at the Dollarama store and as you can well imagine, this is on the shelf as part of their Valentine’s items for sale. 

But, please ignore the Valentine’s Day connection and instead try to focus on the word LOVE and how we might use it in church.   Later in the worship service we are going to read from 1 Corinthians 13, a Bible passage that many people recognize and sometimes refer to as the LOVE passage. 

Now, you may look around you and wonder where the bride and groom might be hidden.   When we hear the passage from 1 Corinthians 13, we assume that we are attending a wedding.   Well, there is no wedding here today.  

Of course, 1 Corinthians 13 is used often at weddings, because it is understood as praising the value of romantic, human love.  But in reality 1 Corinthians 13 has NOTHING to do with weddings.

What is often missed, and perhaps actively ignored, is that this text was first written to a Christian community in the ancient city of Corinth that was having a very difficult time staying together.   The people who were attending the church in Corinth were struggling with the difficult realities of relationships and they ask the apostle Paul for help and advice. 

So Paul begins to address their issues and he talks to them about their relationships and what is at the foundation of their relationships.   The foundation of their relationships, says Paul, is LOVE.  Love is what we are all about because we gather in church to hear and celebrate that GOD loves us.   God loves us so much that God was willing to send Jesus to the cross in order that we might have the gifts of eternal life and forgiveness.  We forgiven and we are given the gift of heaven out of God’s LOVE.

Then of course, we soak in that love and then let God’s love flow OUT of us.   We try to love others as God loves us.  Love is at the heart of who we are and what we do.  

While Paul talks about this LOVE, Paul wants to point out that this love is CONNECTED.   Notice my wall hanging that feature the letters which spell out the word love:  L-O-V-E.  Notice that those letters are connected.  The letters on this wall-hanging are connected with silver string.  They have to be connected in order to spell out the word love. 

And this connection is VERY important. 

As Paul talks about the word love in 1 Corinthians 13, he is actually continuing his discussion from 1 Corinthians 12.   1 Corinthians 13 builds off of 1 Corinthians 12.   1 Corinthians 12 is about being one body.    Paul says that we are part of the body of Christ. 

How might we IMAGINE the fact that we are part of the body of Christ?

(Produce a ball of yarn.  Have people grab hold of the yard and then toss the ball of yarn around the church to someone else)   

I don’t know if you have ever been a part of an exercise like this.   I have taken part in this exercise in other places, holding on to my piece of the yarn and then passing the yarn to others to hold on to and then pass to someone else. 

Eventually we ALL are holding on to a piece of the yarn and the ball of yarn has made its way throughout the congregation. 

Guess what?   We have just acted out 1 Corinthians 12.   We are all part of the body of Christ; we are ALL connected.

Now what connects us?  JESUS. 

We are connected to God through the love we have experienced through Jesus.   We are called to be in community with each other to be in the body of Christ together and how we do that is through love, service and we act out of love.

Sometimes that is not easy.  Sometimes that is difficult to do, sometimes there is quite a cost as we try to love God, love each other; love our neighbourhood.  It is never easy, but God always seems to call us to a form of higher service that speaks of God and is of God. 

We are CONNECTED to each other by the LOVE of God as we have seen through JESUS.

Thanks be to God.  Amen.

(Portions of this sermon were taken from the website, Dollar Store Children’s Sermons at:  http://dskidsermons.com/2016/01/20/january-31st-2016-4th-sunday-after-the-epiphany/.

Also consideration was taken from the website, Working preacher at:  http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2734.)



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