Reading: 1st Corinthians 13
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part,but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Christ the King Sunday is the final Sunday in the Church’s year. Let’s begin with an aye been question.
Now we know, apart from God, nothing has truly aye been. Has the church aye celebrated Christ the King Sunday? What century did it begin? 10th, 14th, 17th, 19th, 20th. The feast of Christ the King was first marked in 1925, a few years after WWI, it was intended to assert the power of Christ in the world, over the power of war, over the power of totalitarianism. Paul’s hymn to love that we read in 1st Corinthians is one of the greatest pieces of love poetry ever written. It is the sort of love that is strong as steel and relates to all manner of human relationships. All our divisions and selfishness, all our arrogance and impatience, all our deceit and dishonesty the problems and issues that confront so many people are challenged head on in this writing. It may sound a very simple solution but I will ask the question. Can love overcome all these human failings? Paul declares with absolute certainty, Yes. Yet if I am really honest, and I suppose if you were really honest too, we sometimes still wonder, will love have the victory? As today is Christ the King Sunday it may be good for us to think about the emotional footprint each of us will leave behind.
What legacy do we leave for others?
What are the things we hold on to that could describe how we feel about ourselves and life in general?
Jesus’ footprint was a giant footprint then and still is today despite much anti-Christian feeling. Remember he cried over Jerusalem, and the people who were like sheep without a shepherd. Remember his emotion over the suffering and isolation of lepers. Yet he could still be hurt by the fact that only one thought to come back to say thank you. Jesus was no soft touch either; he showed his anger at the hypocrisy and oppression around him. He taught us to call God our loving father. He taught us to care for others as we care for ourselves. He shared his vision of good news for the poor, liberty and freedom for the oppressed, sight for the blind and salvation for all. We saw his humility, gentleness and obedience. He always had the power of God but gave it up to become like us. He gave up all he had and gave his life for the world. We saw his agony in the garden, his forgiveness from the cross, his care of his mother in his dying moments. With his last words on earth he promised that he would never leave us, but would be with us always through his Holy Spirit. Not one person has had such a profound effect on our world as this one man. His emotional footprint is giant sized. As Christians does the teaching of Jesus shine from our lives, meaning that our footprint is a positive one?
What about the footprint left by the Church?
There is much written on the pages of history that leave the church not looking too. There is much written on the pages of history that show the church in a much better light. But people, often to suit their own agenda, ignore the good footprints which Christians have left behind, preferring to concentrate on the bad and the negative. When we embark on a campaign of, let’s call it religious works, if the root of that is some sort of merit for the one doing it then it is in vain. These things ought to be done for the other and not for the self. Promoting Christian unity, Christian love and Christian ministry in the world, we are a people who are called to feed one another and support one another and to witness to the world. Paul’s ‘love is’ list says if we have spiritual gifts but not love we are nothing. Therefore, he is saying a person who is filled with love is patient, is kind etc. a person filled with love will not envy, does not boast etc. Paul wrote about the footprint left by Jesus and he reminds us of who we are and whom we belong to, of what we should be doing and who we should be doing it for, of where our abilities come from and where those abilities are meant to be applied. He was talking about the footprints we leave behind. Let us make sure the emotional footprints we leave on friends, family and even strangers changes their world for the better. Let us walk in the footprints of Jesus the Christ and King.