Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The ancient power of love

I've spent more time than ever in churches in recent months in preparation for our daughter's confirmation last weekend. It's nice - but ergonomically very uncomfortable - to sit there for an hour or so, singing the old psalms, listening to the amazing scriptures, hearing the priest preaching...
I am not babtized. I don't really feel a member, there's so much about the institution of the church that I have a hard time with. (E.g.the insistence on one, well defined God, the tendency to use God's forgiveness as an excuse for independent thinking and responsibility...)

Never the less, you cannot but marvel at the wisdom of the words of Paul in the first corinthian letter:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 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 have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not selfseeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.


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