19 July 2018

Today’s Chapel - 7.19.18

Prayer and Preaching, p. 260ff.

Reading: from 1 Corinthians 16

Keep alert. Stand firm in the faith. Demonstrate manly courage. Be strong. Let everything you do be done in love. [EHV]


In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Back when I was a young man and a new Christian, a supplement had come out to the hymnal. The Worship Supplement (either red or blue; ours were blue).— There was one service in there that got used a bit, and I fell in love with the way it ended.

Having heard God's Word read and the Gospel of Jesus proclaimed, having lifted up the needs of the world in prayer, having received into our mouths the very body and blood of Christ and given Him our thanks, we stood and the pastor said to us: "Go out into the world in peace; have courage; hold to what is good; return no man evil for evil; strengthen the faint-hearted; support the weak; help the suffering; honor all men; love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit. And may almighty God, the Father, the + Son, and the Holy Spirit, bless you." To which we all answered "Amen!"

It might sound kind of silly, but I appreciated so much hearing those marching orders. Not that I did them, but that they reminded me of where God was inviting me and the shape of the life of Christ wanted to live in me in this world. I think that's really what Paul is doing at the end of 1 Corinthians. He'd already served them up a whole heaping helping of doctrine and exhortation, rebuke and correction, along with a fair bit of sheer poetic beauty. And now he's wrapping things up and he just wants to remind them one more time where they're headed and how to get there.

So first, warrior language: be on your guard, stand your ground in the faith, live like men, be strong! You can almost hear the men banging their spears on the ground in rhythm, woo-woo (grunting). Bring it on! And then he blows them away with: Let everything you do be done in love. Kinda sounds discordant with the war drums, doesn't it? Let's get back to the battle, right?

Well, that is the battle: to let everything you do be done in love. If it's not in love, not to do it. This is, First Corinthians, after all, and they can't have so soon forgotten the words they'd heard from him only moments before in that hymn to love: love is patient, love is kind, love does not envy. It does not brag. It is not arrogant. It does not behave indecently. It is not selfish. It is not irritable. It does not keep a record of wrongs. It does not rejoice over unrighteousness but it does rejoice in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love doesn't come to an end.

And it's not very long into that song before you realize: He's not talking about us and our love; He's talking about Jesus and His love. The Love Paul is singing about isn't a quality of mine, but a Person, and that Person has always and only treated me in love. Not keeping a record of my wrongs; rejoicing over the truth of how much in Him God has loved me. "Let everything you do be done in love"—that's really not saying anything much different than let everything you do be done in Christ, to Christ, for Christ. Or even stronger, let Christ love through you.

Use all your army lingo to drive it into your head that THIS is what Satan assaults. This is what he wants to drive you away from. From the love that is Christ. From living in Him and Him living in you in love. Why, St. Paul would even point out that you could speak angelic tongues and have all the knowledge in the world and bravely give up your body to be burned, and if it all happened without love, it would be worth less than nothing.

So Christian soldiers, watch! Stand firm! Be men! Be bold! Guard your life that you might do everything in love. For that is to live in Christ whose love for you brought Him to the Cross where all the lovelessness of the human race, heaped in a pile and poured onto Him, simply could not quench the burning fire of His divine love for each one of us, for you.

To love will always mean to suffer in this fallen world. He shows the way, but even more, He invites you to live in union with Him who IS the way and to guard that way with vigilance and all the woo, woo, woo you can muster, until He finishes His new creation and you are changed from glory into glory by love Divine and your life becomes love. His work in you complete.

But until that Day, go out into the world in peace… You know where you're headed and what the battle is. Keep alert. Stand firm in the faith. Demonstrate manly courage. Be strong. Let everything you do be done in love. Everything. In. Love.

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Hymn: 700 Love, Divine, All Loves Excelling

Prayers: Amy, Hannah, Paula, Roger, Ruth, Allan and Jan, Pr. Edward and Monica Naumann (in chapel) serving in sri lanka

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