Faith, Hope, and Love

1 Corinthians 1:1-13

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. 2 And 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. 3 If 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 arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It 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. 9 For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When 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. 12 For 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. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Sermon Faith, Hope, and Love

Good morning. Today is All Saints’ Day, the day in the church year when we honor all the saints of the Church who are no longer with us. This has been one of my favorite days on the liturgical calendar for a long time. But I have to admit, I’m not feeling it as much this year.

I’ll start with the obvious: worship is really different this year. “For All the Saints” is one of my favorite hymns; it’s so majestic. It starts with an F, followed by a C-chord, and then the choir processes in from the back of the sanctuary. But that’s not safe. Maybe next year.

That’s not the only reason I’m not feeling All Saints’ Day like I used to. This used to be one of my favorite times of the year. Used to be.

November 2nd was my grandmother’s birthday and it’s always a happy memory. Grandma lived to be 97. She was a kind and loving soul and she was in pretty good shape up until the end. If you want to get a sense of what she was like, think of Eleanor Hargis. Grandma had a similar combination of love, intelligence, kindness, and longevity, and above all, great faith. While I miss Grandma, I’m not sad about her passing. She’d be 113 tomorrow; she earned her rest!

Grandma’s birthday was also a reminder that my birthday was right around the corner—our birthdays are exactly a week apart. While I’m really, really glad to still be alive this year, birthdays haven’t been the same since my dad died. He died on November 3rd. Right in between Grandma’s birthday and my birthday—about two years before I was ordained. What used to be a happier season in my life is now a reminder of what’s been lost.

One other thing. I used to be really into politics. I was always excited around Election Day. I was always eager for a debate. I was always ready to mix it up, to argue over candidates and issues. Now? Not so much. Politics is exhausting. Elections are exhausting. I just want the whole process to be over. There’s too much ugliness and division. Don’t get me wrong, all of those divisions would be there even if it wasn’t an election year. But because it’s an election year, the division and the ugliness are inescapable. And with each passing year, each passing election season, I lose hope that we can all find a way to get along.

This is also why the Apostle Paul was writing to the church in Corinth in the first place: they were having a lot of trouble getting along with one another. They were fighting over who should lead the congregation. They fought over what it meant to be a Christian. Even though Paul had founded this congregation only a few years earlier, they were divided. In the first chapter of the letter, Paul writes:

Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belon