Author: Matthew Benz-Whittington
If I speak in the tongues[a] 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,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13
Spreadsheets: check. Decorations: check. Raffle items: Check. As I busily made sure that every possible detail was covered for the youth fundraiser, Feast, Pray, Love, I found myself thinking about the name of this event. It is simple, to the point, funny and lets you know a lot of what will be happening. We feast together, we say a prayer as a community of faith and there is plenty of love to be shared. At the end of the day, what would this event be without love? Why would the youth bother to give up some of their precious Saturday afternoon to come set up if there wasn’t a good reason? Why would church members donate money to the youth group to go on a trip? There must be a good reason!
I’ve often said that a fundraiser without a great purpose is just an event. A summer trip for the youth is just an extended field trip without a good cause. Paul’s declaration of words ringing hollow reminds me that there is so much to consider in what we decide to take on in life. Paul is writing to an early Christian community who is experiencing discord amongst themselves. Paul reminds them that love is something that should bring them together. No matter what else they can do as a community, if they do not have love, what is the point?
Our son, Leo, is now 9 months old and has a grip that could probably crush a walnut. Our love for him knows no bounds and we are so crazy about him. He is at this “fun” stage where when I pick him up and hold him, he uses his vice gripper strength to grab ahold of whatever part of my beard he can grab. Sometimes he misses the beard and will grab my lips, cheek skin, hair and occasionally my nose. This causes me all sorts of pain, and yet, I still love him. I love him with all my heart, soul and mind and nothing he does to my beard will change that.
Love is a strange thing. It makes us forget about things that hurt us. It drives us to be a better person, friend, neighbor or partner. It helps us to overcome feelings of doubt and self-consciousness. Love can help to begin the healing process of old wounds. As a Christian community, we are constantly called and challenged to love more and to take that love out into the world. This is at the core of what we believe and what we do. For if we go out without love, we gain nothing.