Last Sunday, our student ministries pastor asked us to do something very different. At least different for me. In our communal prayer time we asked God to help our church live out the love chapter, I Corinthians 13.
You know the one: love is patient, kind. That one you often hear at wedding ceremonies.
Quite frankly, I’ve always viewed the LOVE Chapter with a more personal than corporate perspective. I could be more patient, more kind, more this, more that! But practice these admonitions as a church? Sounds a little over the top. But why was I surprised?
After all . . .
Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours: 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Rather than pray “Lord help me to be patient, help me to be kind,” we were guided to pray for our church of God in Ashland.
Pastor Cory poked at us pretty hard. “What does 1 Corinthians 13 mean to Park Street Brethren Church?” He challenged us to think beyond ourselves as individuals. Cory explained that we would be praying through the love chapter as a church body. We bowed our heads and let Cory lead. “Love is patient,” he said. I prayed for our church members to be patient with each other. Cory continued, “Ask the Lord to show you specifically how Park Street needs patience.” I immediately thought about the diversity of gifts amongst the congregation and how we need to nurture each other in their unique areas. Often that requires patience!
“Love is kind,” quoted Cory. And so the process continued. Prayer time was a unifying experience. I sensed a seriousness about us, a desire to consider the very character of our church community.
And I felt most rattled when Cory punctuated our experience with this declaration: “The way we behave as a community makes a difference in the world.”
Hearts were humbled.
Because behavior is a reflection of how we embrace the character of Christ.
And the greatest of these is love.
(Italicized scripture is from 1 Corinthians 13:1-3)