Earlier this week, I popped into Walgreens, and it is like a Valentine’s Day bomb went off. Every aisle you go down, you find yourself wading through red and pink, shouting at you to spend more money. I am not a Valentine’s Day hater, nor do I jump in with both feet. I am Valentine’s Day neutral. But as I walked the aisles of Walgreens, I couldn’t help but think of the shallow love splashed all over those boxes of chocolates and holiday cards. Love that will last about as long as it takes for the candy to digest.
One of the most famous passages on love in the bible is 1st Corinthians 13:4-7. It is the “love is patient, love is kind……” passage. Paul writes out the different attributes of love, how love acts. It is a beautiful passage. It is one of the “big ones” that moves its way out of the Bible and into weddings all over the world. But if we zoom out and read around the passage, we find the apostle Paul isn’t talking about a wedding, or even about the love of a couple or a family. He is talking about the love of God, and how Christians should live it. 1st and 2nd Corinthians are letters Paul writes to a real church in ancient Greece. A real church that was having some major problems. Reading the preceding chapters, we see a church that is fractured, argumentative and frankly not very loving. This passage loses some of its perceived romance when we realize what is really going on.
But losing the romance is probably a good thing, because then we see how real it is. And how it could apply to our own lives today. Paul writes that without love, he is nothing. Paul writes about faith, hope and love, essential values of a Christian community, and that the greatest of these three is love. Without love, we couldn’t do anything. Paul writes that love never ends.
God becomes known in love. In the love that we, as a church, show one another. God’s love is bigger than warm fuzzies, and chocolate candies, and fancy cards. God’s love is bigger than the fights between the Corinthians, God’s love is bigger than the fights or fears we have even now about being the Church. So, this Valentine’s day, let’s celebrate the never-failing love of God. And on February 15th, celebrate with half-priced candy.