1 Corinthians 13:1-8 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.
The month of February, with Valentine’s Day and the beginning of Lent, brings opportunities to reflect on love. We are reminded of the loving relationships in our lives, the love God shows us in Christ, and the call to love our neighbors.
Valentines Day gives us an opportunity to celebrate our relationships in which love comes relatively easily.
Celebrating Lent means preparing for Easter by first remembering the events of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, the last supper, and the journey toward the cross, all of which reminds us of God’s love, shown in Jesus. Jesus showed the same love to us in the way He forgave and welcomed those whom people tended to reject.
For his efforts, Jesus got rejection and opposition leading to his death. He loved us so much that He took the journey to the cross, with all its suffering, for us.
Celebrations in this month might also challenge us to re examine how we love our neighbors and our enemies. Life in America and the church at large today gives us daily opportunities to love those we don’t enjoy and with whom we don’t agree. What if we take 1 Corinthians 13 seriously, responding to even our most difficult neighbors with patience, kindness, humility, generosity, truth, and hope.
God calls us to love our neighbors in prayer. Praying for someone’s good, in addition to praying for a difference in their speech and actions, invites God to change the neighbor as we ask and/or to transform the mind and heart of the person praying with understanding and grace.
God often answers prayer through the one doing the praying, asking us to love our neighbor in words and action, setting an example of kindness and grace, speaking truth in love, and fighting the opposition we encounter with patience and faith.
May we live together in God’s love no matter how physically distanced we must be.