This is a sermon I wrote in 2005 and forgot I had it. So I thought I would post it. I did not included all of the stuff that precedes the scripture, because it is no longer relevant, especially to this sermon.
With that said, let me not take up anymore time, and get into our text, which today is taken from Paulís 1st letter to the Corinthians, the 13th chapter, which will be read in itís entirety.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
In many translations, we translate the word ďcharityĒ with ďLove.Ē So this evening, let me repeat the last verse, and let me add a statement of my own. And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Because, my brothers and sisters, students, faculty and friends, when it all comes down to it, Love is the greatest of these because it is Love that is in the Details.
Therefore, our subject for tonight is Love Is In The Details.
Let us pray:
Next to John 3:16, I think this is probably one of the most quoted verses in the Bible. In fact, when I was in ordination classes through the AME Church preparing for my final ordination class, we had a preaching assignment where we could preach on anything we wanted EXCEPT John 3:16 and this passage.
Why, you may ask? Because any preacher worth his or her salt could preach on these topics with their eyes closed. After all, were talking about Love, right? Weíre talking about the Love of God, the Love of Jesus, and Love in general.. Easy topics, right?
Well, it depends. It depends on your vantage point and your outlook. It depends on how you view Love, how you treat Love and whether or not you Respect Love.
Yes, my friends, a lot of us do not respect Love. Someone said to me just the other day that I am in Love with Love. And I think she was right. Or rather, I know she is right. I am in Love with Love.
Because simply put, Love is the most powerful force in the universe. There is nothing that can defeat Love. There is nothing that can surpass it, there is nothing that can overcome it, there is nothing like it. Love, itís purest form Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
Paul nails it with this one. I have made it known in classes and discussions here that I am not always a fan of Paul. But this writing right here nails it for me. It speaks to the universal nature of Love. What it is capable of, what it can do, if we let it.
I said a moment ago that a lot of us donít respect Love. We donít respect Love because we get jealous. We donít respect love because we get controlling. We donít respect Love because we get possessive and demanding. We donít respect Love because we donít let Love BE Love.
We think we should control it, possess it, wrangle it, manipulate and beat it into submission. We have this thought in our society that Love is conditional, that Love can be restricted, that there are certain things that make up Love, and if you donít rail it in, you are not really Loving someone.
We make Love a big ticket item. We think Love is in the grand gestures. The material possessions. The outlandish statements. We think that all we need to do to express our Love for someone is say it on a regular basis or make some big grand gesture.
One of the ultimate expressions of Love God made for us was through Jesus. When God allowed Jesus not only to be born, but to walk the earth as a man, it was a statement of Love. But remember, Jesus did not come to us as a loud and boisterous king. He didnít come to us in a hail of thunder and lightning. Remember what He did on the day that we call Palm Sunday. He rode into the town, meekly, on the back of a donkey.
It was little things like that, which believe it or not, was indeed a little thing compared to what Jesus could have done which was a statement in itself. It was a small example. A meek and humble example. It was a strong show of Love in a quiet manner.
When I say Love is in the Details, I remember something that happened to me last year. I had just gotten out of the hospital after a gallbladder attack. My brilliant, brilliant son, who was here during spring break, for the first time saw his dad weak and helpless, and sometimes in pain. He was 7 at the time, and the strength that little boy showed me impressed me to no end.
When I got home, my son barely let me do anything for myself. He would bring me my food, drinks or medicine. Now actually, that didnít get to me too much. After all, he had seen me take care of my mother and grandmother during their infirmities, so I figured he was just following my example. But one day, he did something that amazed me.
I was coming out of the bathroom, and I went into my room and I saw him in there, making up my bed. Now mind you, I donít make up my bed. Ever. I figure whatís the point? I am just gonna mess it up anyway.
But here is my 7 year old son, making my bed, when he didnít and still doesnít make his own bed. And when I walked into the bedroom, and asked him why he did it, he looked at he and shrugged, and said, ďbecause I wanted to.Ē
Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, that day, my son, my 7 year old scared son, seeing his father weak for the first time, said to me he loved me by making up my bed. It was in the details. It was making my bed up and straightening it up, so I would be comfortable. It was a detail when he fluffed up the pillow.
My grandmother, when I was in college the first time, used to always offer me bus fare to get back and forth to school. Never mind I drove 90% of the time. Never mind I had more income than she did at that time. But for her, her method of love, of support, was to offer me $3 a day to take the bus back and forth to school. It was not a grand gesture my friends. It was a small thing. It was a detail.
Itís always in the details. Itís the little things. The things we ignore. When people around us get jealous and possessive, when they get controlling and manipulative, when they get dismissive and oppressive, it is because we forgot the details. When we avail ourselves of the power to move mountains, but not avail ourselves of Love, we are forgetting the little, crucial things. The little details that make Love what it is.
All we have to do, for a prime example of the details of Love is look to God. Look how He designed us. Think of the wonders of the human body. How little things, like the physiology of the human body, the way the heart works, the way blood is carried to and from the heart and the brain, they way oxygen is carried around and through the body, the way the body heals itself and cleans itself, the way our eyes operate, the way our taste buds operateÖ..I could go on. But think of all the little details that go into the way the human body was created.
Nothing but Love. And it is all in the details.
We have a problem in this country when it comes to Love. We want to tell people who they can and cannot Love. We want to tell people that they cannot marry who they Love. And yes, I know exactly what I am saying. But I am the liberal student here, remember. And while I said I was going to try no to step on any toes, it bears saying.
When the United States Government thinks about passing legislation regarding how people can Love and how they can express that Love, we are all in trouble. If you, sitting here this evening, think you are justified in restricting how two consensual adults want to express their Love for each other, ask yourself one question. ARE YOU GOD?
My friends, we must understand. There is a reason Love is so powerful. There is a reason Love can do all things. There is a reason Paul said that Love ďdoeth not behave itself unseemly.Ē We have people in our government who are acting unseemly. They are trying to adopt the pose and position of God and trying to dictate how Love can be manifested in this so-called free society of ours. In this so-called Democracy. In the 21st century, with buildings blowing up, soldiers dying, oils prices skyrocketing, children dying in the street, women being raped, jobs being lostÖwhen there are still homeless people on the street, when people have to beg on the street for money, when the church is under assault, when the very fabric of this country is being threatenedÖwe choose NOW to tell gay people they are unworthy of Godís love and unworthy of His grace and compassion to be joined in Holy Matrimony? Are we crazy?
Did Jesus get up on that cross and rise on the 3rd day so we can play fast and loose with how and who people Love? Search all the scriptures you want and show me one place where God or Jesus tells people they cannot Love who they want.
I digress. If I offend, I wish I could apologize, but I canít. Love is too powerful of an emotion, too powerful of a force to be regulated by laws.
Because when it comes to the details of Love, it is the small things that matter. It is the little things that matter. In this country, we support possessive Love, jealous Love, controlling Love. Instead of paying attention to the small things that matter, a touch of a hand, a kiss of the cheek, a look in the eyes. A surprise expression, a casual comment, a sly glance.
The details, when it comes to Love between two people are not in the big things. You can buy someone as many fur coats and expensive cars and big houses you want. You can buy all the jewelry you want. If you are not truly and honestly in Love with yourself and your neighbor, if you are not willing to put as much effort into the more difficult, subtle things as you are in the easy, big things, you are missing the details. You are missing the most wonderful aspects of Love.
Love, my brothers and sisters, is the end all to be all. It is the little things, the little gestures, the details, that make all the difference in the world. The call in the middle of the day just to say hi. The card for no other reason than to say I Love you. The silly and mushy e-mail to let someone know you are thinking about them. These are the details we speak.
And while I have bounced around a bit today, understand my main point as I prepare to close. And remember, I told you it has been almost 3 years since I have preached.
Godís Love for us is unconditional. If we seek to be more like God, then we must be willing to share and express that unconditional Love. Godís Love knows no limits. If we seek to be more like Jesus, then we need to Love our neighbors as we Love ourselves. And let me tell you, everyone is our neighbor. The world is our neighbor. Whether it is the person living next door to you or the person living on the other side of the world. All of this is my Fathers house. All of this is YOUR fatherís house. This is a house built on Love. If it were not so, God would have told us.
God infused us will so many details, from the way we are able to live to the way we are able to Love. Godís Love for us is not manifested the big ticket items like money, or prestige or fame or power. Itís in the rising and setting of the sun. It is in the stars that shine at night. It is in the smile of the baby. It is the look in the eyes of a Loved one. Where they can tell you they Love you without saying a word.
Yes, my brothers and sisters, it is those details, that make up Love. It is those details which show us how to Love. It is in those details where we feel Love the most.
One of my former Bishops, the Right Reverend Robert Thomas, Sr., when he was the presiding prelate of my Episcopal District had a theme for his tenure as Bishop. Love Makes The Difference. And the difference is in the details.
So if you Love someone today, remember the details. Remember the little things they do to remind you they Love you. Remember the look your children give you just because. Remember how your parents use to hold you when you were sick. Remember the details. And to quote of my favorite artists, Prince:
And then it hit 'cha like a fist on a wall
Who gave U life when there was none at all?
Who gave the sun permission 2 rise up everyday?
Let me tell it
If U ask God 2 love U longer
Every breath U take will make U stronger
Keepin' U happy and proud 2 call His name
When it hits you that God loves us with details, when it hits you that Jesus gave His life for us with details, that on that third day, when all was said and done, when everyone believed Him to be gone, the rock was rolled away, and out stepped the detail. Out stepped the promise. Out stepped the fulfillment. That when He appeared to what was left of the 12, when he admonished Thomas, and allowed Thomas to touch the wounds in His hands Ė a detail that He was who He wasÖÖthat is the Love of God, that is the Love of Jesus.
That we have a living God who Loves us because of the details and sometimes IN SPITE of the details.
Today, go forth, with the details. Go forth with the desire to express and pay attention to the details. Embrace the details. Embrace yourself. Embrace Love. Embrace God. And be reminded.
And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
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