1 Corinthians 13:1-13 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. 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. 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.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 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. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 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. 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. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
Reflection It takes courage to stretch beyond our comfort zones. It takes faith in something greater than ourselves to reach out to strangers. This past week I was touched by a story I read in a London newspaper about a young woman who did just that. Eighteen year old Muná Adan blindfolded herself and stood near a fountain in the middle of Trafalgar Square.*To give you a bit of perspective, this is in the midst of Central London. Four thousand busses pass through Trafalgar square every day. The Underground transit never stops moving below as people make their way to businesses, the National Gallery, St. Martin in the Fields and Buckingham Palace. Trafalgar Square is also notorious for its masterful pick-pockets, whose handiwork I had the misfortune of experiencing.
Back to the story. In the midst of this chaos Muná blindfolded herself and stood next to a large cardboard sign that read, “I am a Muslim, not a terrorist. If you trust me, give me a hug.” She was inundated with “trust hugs,” lots of tears and the words, “I love you.” Muná did this in response to the rise of Islamophobia happening in London. She said,”You always see negative stories about Muslims, so I wanted to do something about it.”
It takes courage to make ourselves vulnerable (putting on a blindfold in public certainly qualifies for that). It also takes courage to respond to the vulnerable. The thing is, courage does not mean we are comfortable or unafraid. Courage means we step out and do something even though we are uncomfortable or afraid. The reason we can do this is because we have faith in something more than ourselves. We have faith in God who is with us and with all people. We have faith in God that is expressed as love in kindness for all people. I believe that is what Paul is writing to the Corinthians, “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
It takes courage to reach across social, political, religious and racial barriers to deliver God’s blessings, God’s kindness, God’s endless love to all people. Fourteen years ago a program was initiated in Tucson and has spread throughout the country to do just that. Called “Ben’s Bells” it aims to promote kindness throughout the local community and was created by Jeannette Maré as a way to endure the tragic death of her three year old son Ben.
The mission of Ben’s Bells is to “inspire, educate, and motivate people to realize the impact of intentional kindness, and to empower individuals to act according to that awareness, thereby strengthening ourselves, our relationships, and our communities.” You can visit Ben’s Bells to learn more https://bensbells.org Meanwhile, perhaps you will join me engaging in three intentional acts of kindness each day of our upcoming Season of Lent (beginning on Ash Wednesday, February 10th).
We are Christ’s hands and feet in the world. It is up to us to deliver God’s blessing of loving kindness for all people, without exception, without excuse.
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