Wedding Homily - Love is not Loud but Lasting
1 Corinthians 13
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If 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.
4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror, dimly,* but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
A list of marital virtues would have to include communication, understanding, trust, and sacrifice near the top. This scripture passage describes the ability to communicate with the tongues of mortals and angels, to understand all mysteries (perhaps, even, the great mystery of marriage), to have faith able to remove mountains, and the willingness to give over livelihood, even life itself for the greater purpose.
And, strikingly, Paul envisions one who could communicate, understand, trust, and sacrifice - all without love. And without love, be left with nothing. This should cause us to wonder what is this thing called love?
Love is not the momentary crash of the cymbals, or the mountain removed in a fit of effort.
Love is rather the quiet, constant, pulse of a Christ-centered, cross-shaped commitment.
Love is not so much loud as it is lasting.
Love does not rise and fall, love IS.
"Faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love."
Faith and hope will become knowledge when the object longed for arrives in all its glory.
Love IS and remains itself. Love matures into the fullness of itself.
The Apostle Paul is not preaching at a wedding here, but speaking to a congregation in deep conflict. How much struggle, in churches and in marriages arises from competing visions of the future hoped for, and the variability of one's faith that their church or their marriage will ever arrive at that glorious vision.
But love. Love, IS.
Love is not the percussion of a gong, but the melody and harmony of unity within difference.
Love is not the feeling that comes from understanding, but the commitment to seek to understand.
Love is not best demonstrated in heroic acts that prove faithfulness or a willingness to sacrifice, but through daily measures that aren't measured for size.
Love IS and never ends. The days come when prophecies cease, communication falters, understanding darkens. But, love IS and will be. Love does not wait for the mirror to be seen clearly, for knowledge to be full.
And in communities of Christian faith - in churches and in marriages - Christ is present as abiding love. Because CHRIST is risen and lives, we know love never ends.
In Christian faith and hope, we look to the day when we will know fully, even as we have been fully known. And with Christian love, we find the power to live the days in-between.
As your family and friends, we bless you on your marriage, we celebrate with you on this day when love speaks loud, and we pray for you the abiding love of Christ which will last. Amen.