From The Rev. Deacon George Cano
And Now Faith, Hope and Love Abide
Bernard of Clairvaux, 1090-1153, the French abbot and Doctor of the Church, in his “Homily on Canticles,” wrote these powerful words:
There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge; that is curiosity.
There are those who seek knowledge to be known by others: that is vanity.
There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve; that is Love.
These few words humble me, and I shall try to keep them as a guide as I seek to understand the words written in Scripture and that I may remember that they were written in Love. I believe that love is like faith: they are both action words. Just saying love or faith is not as meaningful as loving and “faithing”. When we love someone, don’t we feel a longing to hold them near? When we have faith in our Lord, don’t we desire to show that belief in the way we live our lives? The Apostle Paul says with great clarity the words I can only hint at: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God — not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of Life.” (Ephesians 2:8-10, 12:31, 13:1-13, 14:1)
That last verse is so telling, so to the point: “For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” So if I haven’t misread something in Paul’s letter, there are works, and then there are works. The works of man alone lead us nowhere, but there are good works, God’s works, that are to be our way of life. Jesus in Matthew 5:14-16 says, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” James 1:22-25 tells us, “But be doers of the word, not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they look like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act — they will be blessed in their doing.”
This past Sunday we shared a wonderful lunch and all-parish meeting. During the meeting, perhaps for the first time, we heard and spoke of the goodness of those who minister at St. Paul’s. I’m not referring to the clergy but of the doers of God’s works here and in the larger community. In an older time we might have called them “faithers,” people so filled with the love of God that walking that extra mile has become just a small bump in their walk. Craig Persons, the Master of Ceremonies for the program part of our meeting, referred to Paul’s 1st Corinthians 13, called the Gift of Love. Craig of course didn’t read the whole of the letter, but enough so that we could grasp Paul’s belief that without love, regardless of anything else we might possess, we are nothing. I am very thankful that Craig quoted from this passage. It, to me, is one of the most beautiful and inspiring passages in all the Scriptures and a point of meditations for me over many years. I would like to share just a bit more of this poetic piece with you. Apostle Paul actually introduces this Gift of Love in Chapter 12, verse 31: “But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.” The portion that Craig quoted from begins with the first verse in 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.” Verse 4 begins to tell us what love truly is and why it is the greatest of all gifts. Verse 8 begins, “Love never ends.” Verse 9, “For we know only in part;” Verse 10 “but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end.” Verse 13: “And now faith, hope and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” Chapter 14, verse 1 gives us our purpose in our spiritual journey: “Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy.” Isn’t that something — faith, hope and love abide, live in us, God’s work, and God’s love our faith and hope.
Together, we at St. Paul’s are building a tradition of service to the Glory of God. We for the love of our Lord and the love of all our neighbors are trying not to be just hearers of the Word, but doers of the Word. In Rite 1 of our Prayer Book, we are asked “to walk in the works God has prepared for us to walk in.” This is part of our tradition as Episcopalians. Gustav Mahler, the Austrian conductor and composer of symphonies (1860-1911) wrote these words: “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.” May we continue with our Lord’s help to preserve the fire that is in our desire to love and serve. If you’ve read this far, I thank you and ask for just a moment more because I have two more quotes and then I promise I’ll put my pen away for a month or more, so here goes:
Jennifer Rockwood, BYU women’s soccer coach, gives us this gem: “You never know what light you might spark in others, just through your kindness and your example.” And my last quote comes from Shane Claiborne, a Christian activist and author (and I love this one): “When we ask God to move a mountain, God may give us a shovel.” Thank you all for all you do to give Glory to God.