Listen to this week’s Devotional here.
Author: Nancy Wade
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 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 have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (Corinthians 13)
Many of us, myself included, chose portions of this chapter to be read during their wedding. In my case, as I listened to those words on my wedding day in 2002, I loved the familiarity of the verses, the cadence, and the depth of meaning; the fact that my stepson read the verses made it extra special.
February is fast approaching and I am looking forward to Valentines Day. Some people think it is a “Hallmark holiday,” designed only to make money for retailers. But I am old enough to remember the excitement of the valentine season: cutting hearts out of red and pink construction paper, gluing them onto the sides of shoeboxes, carefully slicing a slit in the top of the box where our classmates would deposit store-bought valentines. When I was in 5th grade, I received a large valentine from Clark Atwood. It said, I love you the most! I was ten years old. Reading that card, I felt both embarrassed and elated. Did this mean that we were now a couple? Did he want me to go steady? I hadn’t given Clark a second look, but upon receiving that card, decided that I probably should. The following week, I stole glances at him when I thought he wasn’t looking, found excuses to get my books from the cloakroom when he was also there. But Clark seemed disinterested, never even glancing my way. Ahhhh . . . the mysteries of young love.
Years later, in a college philosophy class I learned what the Greeks taught about the seven kinds of love: Eros – romantic, passionate love; Philia – affectionate, friendly love; Storge – unconditional, familial love; Agape – selfless, universal love; Ludus – playful, flirtatious love; Pragma – committed, long-lasting love; and Philautia — self-love, defined as “love of self” which has been conceptualized both as a basic human necessity and as a moral flaw. And as the years have gone by, I feel grateful to have experienced most of these at one time or another.
Yesterday afternoon, I attended a stewardship session held at Frasier Meadows, where 27 members of First Cong are residents. There were about 20 of us in attendance and we were asked to introduce ourselves by talking about what we love about our church. As each person articulated their reasons for the love they feel and the commitment they make, I felt a combination of agape and pragma: a happy mix of universal love and a commitment to a long-lasting love. Looking around the circle, I felt a deep and abiding love for the faithful people who surrounded me. Love for my church family knows no bounds.