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Thinking the Faith, Praying the Faith, Living the Faith is written by the PC(USA) Office of Theology and Worship.

Thinking, praying, and living the faith is at the core of ministry in the Office of Theology and Worship. In the following videos, learn more about what thinking, praying, and living the faith means to the leadership of the Office of Theology and Worship. Discover why it matters and what difference it makes in our lives, work, and worship.  

Charles Wiley  
Barry Ensign-George
David Gambrell
Christine Hong 
Karen Russell

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August 16, 2012

Love is All You Need

All You Need is Love (da da dada da….)

                 Used to be, when I needed a good cry, my go-to movie was “Beaches.”  These days, it’s “A Walk to Remember.”  Like “Beaches,” it makes me love a character and their relationships just to have a dreaded disease strike them down in the prime of life.  I start crying well before the dark circles start to appear under Mandy Moore’s eyes because I know that wedding scene is coming.  Corny?  Yes.  Cathartic?  You betcha.

                But there’s a hidden gem for me in that movie that has nothing to do with having a good cry.  At one point, the doomed young woman reads from her mother’s hand-written collection of  quotes, poems and thoughts. 


"Love is always patient and kind, it is never jealous, love is never boastful nor conceited, it is never rude or selfish, it does not take offense, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in others' sins but delights in the truth: it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes." 


                 I’ve not been able to pin down the translation from which this comes, but as a paraphrase of 1 Corinthains 13:4-8, it’s not bad.  In the movie, it’s made clear that the main character has memorized and internalized the words.  We read these familiar words at weddings and can recite them from memory.  Placing these words in a scene where the characters are identifying the only way to outsmart the reality and unfairness of death, the words take on a different character than they do at a wedding.  The movie isn’t on my list of the all-time best ever, but in that scene the actors do a good job of showing us that spiritual and emotional journey.

                I’ve used 1 Corinthains 13 at funerals because Paul is talking about what our priorities should be, the things that will last – the only things that will last.  And even though it doesn’t seem to come from an authoritative translation, this Hollywood edit of Paul’s soaring prose placed in that situation makes it more difficult to ignore what he’s saying. 

In my search for the translation from which the movie dialogue is taken, I read several translations of this passage.  The New American Bible translates the verse 5 this way:


<love> is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury…


                “Does not brood over injury.”  Brooding over an injury, real or imagined, is a pretty good working definition of resentment.  And that brooding is often what leads us into rude and selfish behavior and makes us unwilling to trust others. 

                Much of what I do from day to day requires me to think about what allows a disparate group of people to meet and talk about things of our faith when they often don’t see eye to eye on things of our faith.  And here’s where I’ve ended up, pretty much where the Beatles ended up:  if we take Paul at his word, all we really need is love.  But the ways we often express “love” among us would never pass muster if held up to this definition. 

                “Love is all you need” is a trite phrase, a song lyric that rolls off the tongue easily.  “God is love” has become equally trite in many ways.   But if we were to read and internalize Paul’s definition of love, these phrases cease to be trite and become a way of living and serving a God that loves us and enables us to love the unlovable. 

                Jesus said that all the prophets and all the law could be summed up in the mandates to love God and love others.  Maybe love really is all you need.  (da da dada da…..)

Tags: community, faith, love, theology, worship