AM Psalm 107:33-43, PM Psalm 108:1-6(7-13); 33
Exodus 2:23-3:15; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; Mark 9:14-29
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Earlier this year I was listening to Maya Angelou read her book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Toward the end she described a pastor’s sermon that sounded both familiar and foreign to me. In any list of the most often-quoted Bible verses, 1 Corinthians 13 will be near the top. You cannot live long in any society with a Christian heritage and not hear it.
But the Corinthians quote in Maya Angelou’s book was just a bit strange to me. Everywhere I expected to hear “love”, the pastor in her story said “charity.” Considering that one of the most common times to hear this passage is during a marriage service, it struck me as more than just a little important that we know the meaning: that is, charity or love?
There is a gap between who we are and who we think we should be. Paul refers to this gap as hamartia in Greek, which is translated as “sin” in English, but which has the more precise meaning of “missing the mark.” Whether we are at home with plans to go to the supermarket, or whether we are contemplating the distance between our self and our perfect self, this gap is always there during our mortal life. Now we are part way there, and someday we will be fully there.
Until then, only three things remain: faith, hope, and . . . ? With nothing less at stake than the greatest of those three things that we possess between now and our perfect accordance with the will of God, which is it? Charity or love?
- Myron Shekelle