In his letter to the church in Corinth, St Paul famously makes the point to the young emerging church, that Faith Hope and Love are the most important things. He then goes on to add ‘but the greatest of these is love…’
St Paul is clear, that without love he and we are nothing, or at least our deeds are worth nothing. He writes ‘if I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.’ This reading from Paul’s letter is often used at weddings. We like the challenge of: Love is patient, love is kind. It works perfectly as we bind a loving couple together in marriage – this will be the challenge of life together; especially keeping love at the forefront of everything.
But away from weddings it works perfectly for all things. Love is a simple word to use, but its application takes great care and thought – simply saying ‘I love you’ can release us from all sorts of situations – but truly loving someone becomes a life-long commitment and joy. In the bible St Paul also wants us to recognise that faith and hope have a part to play. Where we will place our trust, what hope will lift our eyes to the future. The love which St Paul expresses can work in two hugely different ways. For the early church, as St John writes in his first letter ‘God is love’. But God as love only works if that love is accepted and used by others. So, love can also reach deeper into the expression of our human love – at a wedding it speaks of both; today you love each other, and that love is crowned by God’s blessing.
As we start another new year, where are we with love? If you feel unloved, like so many in our world today, then you will understand the pain of its absence. If you feel love and are happy to express love, then you will know of its powerful importance. As communities, one of our most important tasks is to make sure that all feel love in some way. For those on their own. For those who struggle with life. For those who are unwell. In these situations, love will make a difference. So, if we need it, we need to reach out. If we have it, then it is our joy to share.
Have a wonderful year everybody – and let love be our greatest gift.
If you would like to view any of the reflections or services
that Derek has recorded since March 2020 please click here.
To find a simple form of daily prayer click here (also available as a video)
Other prayer resources may be found on the Church of England website.