I wrote this to conclude my 2016 01 31 sermon at Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church, and put it on Facebook. It got a lot of shares, and was used in a class at Goshen college, published on CPTnet (aquí está en español), and then picked up by Commonword (Mennonite Church Canada resources) and a popular Christian blogger. I probably would write it slightly differently for distribution, but I’m content with the form as it appears. It might be the most popular thing I’ve written so it ought to appear on my blog!
More recently it was published in the August 2016 edition of Sojourners.
1 Corinthians 13 for CPTers
If I speak about courage and justice, and siding with the oppressed, and speaking truth to power no matter the cost, but do not speak about love… I am just a loudmouth orator, a white saviour, a shameless self-promoter.
If I am excellent at nonviolent communication, and I take great pictures, and I know all the latest anti-oppressive lingo, and I can analyse racist systems so as to dismantle them entirely, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I fully embrace the work of prophet and activist and martyr, and get dragged away by the riot police or bombed by the military of my own country, but have not love, that is no use to anyone.
Love is patient. Love survives evil, war, oppression. It remains when the teargas clears and the children go back to school. It is still there when the water is protected. Love is kind, not arrogant, not insisting on its own way, but making space for joy and truth even in the hardest circumstance.
Whether it is love between two people, or love of a person for their community, or love of a community for its land, or love of justice and peace and equity, love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
Clever words will be forgotten. The most interesting facts are subject to revision. The best sermon you’ve ever heard – you will forget. Right now, everything we do is flawed and inaccurate. But. One day we’ll experience Truth with a Capital T. And then all this will be unnecessary.
Before I was mature, I was immature. In becoming mature, I left behind ways of speaking, thinking and reasoning that were immature.
Right now we’re hearing murmurs, reading translations, seeing shadows on the wall, but one day we’ll see face-to-face.
Right now, half of the time I’m guessing, but one day I will know beyond all doubt – and I will be fully known.
What remains when it is all stripped away is three things:
Faith that the flawed world as we see it is not all that there is;
Hope that the next generation will live in a better world;
and Love to give us the strength and motivation to build it.
The greatest of these is Love.