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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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'Love is...'

Sometimes the sermons come from the pews

One ordinary Sunday morning I attended church with a friend in Michigan. A young family with two children, a boy about 6 years old and his sister, no older than 4, sat in the pew in front of us.

ReflectionThe little girl was giving it all she had to behave, but it wasn’t quite enough. Both parents whispered — Sit still and Be quiet. Still, her “Are we there yet?” restlessness persisted.

A few people were getting annoyed. The man next to me said, “If that were my kid, I’d take her out and teach her a lesson.”

Then the lector began to read 1 Corinthians 13. I’d heard the passage so many times at weddings that I could practically recite it. Soon my attention drifted to the little girl.

“Love is patient....”

The parents continued to gesture, Shhh. The mother picked her up off the floor and put her on the pew.

“Love is kind....”

The girl slid off the pew again, took her brother’s face in her hands and gave him a kiss. He gave her a hug in return.

“Love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.…”

The father placed his hand on his daughter’s head and, again, asked her to stay still. She finally did, folding her legs and determinedly looking straight ahead.

“...it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things....And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”

The little girl might not have understood one word of that lesson, but she knew, already, what it was all about.


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