Saint Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – March 21, 2015
by Anita Turlington
Scripture: I Corinthians 13: 1-13
The famous “love passage” from I Corinthians seems an odd choice for a Lenten reflection. We typically read it at weddings and anniversary celebrations. We design posters around this passage and hang them on our walls to admire. In fact, most of us have read this passage so many times that we can quote some of the most familiar lines: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.” This passage, like so much great poetry, tries to capture the essence of the most powerful force in the universe. Paul is not just describing the loving acts that he has experienced; he is describing the very nature of God’s power. Love is the theme of the Bible. This is what it looks like.
Lent, though, is a period of reflection and penitence, and this passage also feels like a litany of our failures. We aspire to reflect God’s love, but this passage can remind us of the many ways we fail. We have not always been patient, even with those we love the most easily. We have sometimes been unkind, rude, and self-centered. The beautiful love passage can confirm, for us, how very unloving we can be.
This season of Lent, however, let us read this passage as Paul certainly intended, not as a checklist of our failings, but as a hymn to the God of love, who chooses us to do great works of mercy and compassion, who sees beyond our broken humanity into our true hearts. We understand this love only in part, but God understands us completely. As we make our way toward the rebirth of Easter, we know that even if we often fail to be the loving people we intend to be, God’s love shapes us into the people He sees in us.
Prayer: Loving God, thank you for your patient transformation of us and our knowledge that your love never fails. Amen.