The congregants lined up in the vestibule to shake the hand of their new Reverend and his young family. The Reverend stood before his people. He knew he loved Jesus, but wasn’t sure how he felt about the congregants. He found himself hoping that no one would discover the truth in his heart.
He assumed from reading and studying scripture, that God would create in him a new heart – a heart that loved his fellow man the way he loved his God. How surprised he was to find himself standing there with his young wife and their two small children…the perfect family, the perfect church for a young pastor, the perfect opportunity…smiling, nodding, thanking, not mindlessly but in full mind and with an empty heart.
If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
“How true that scripture rings at this moment,” he thought, and then smiled immensely when he realized the pun.
Love is patient,
love is kind.
“Good morning Mrs. Walker,” he remarked, still smiling. He clasped her hand with both of his, then leaned in and bowed his head slightly and mumbled, “What a pleasure to meet such a strong Christian woman.”
It does not envy.
It does not boast.
Mrs. Walker presented her best smile and nodded politely. “I would love to sit down with you Reverend to discuss the woman’s ministry. We have quite a strong group and we do so look forward to having your wife join us.” She glanced at the Reverend’s wife, smiled, and gave a half nod.
His wife grinned with delight. “Why, yes, Mrs. Walker,” she said, “I’m looking forward to that as well. The Lord works mightily when we are all of one mind and heart.”
It is not proud.
It does not dishonor others.
“Indeed, dear, with such a strong group of praying women, we have been able to do so much for so many.”
“And what wonderful things we’ve heard too,” his wife replied. “You are such a blessing to the community. Just being a part of something that enriches the lives of others and gives glory to God…well, it just doesn’t get any better than that, does it?” She smiled again and Mrs. Walker moved off.
It is not self-seeking
It is not easily angered.
Jack Jenkins stepped up next and gave a long and hardy handshake that included a grasp to the forearm of the young Reverend as he spoke. “Pleasure, Reverend,” Jack began, “Your sermon really packed a punch today. Now we’ve had some strong preachin’ in this church. I have to say, yours ranks up there with the best of ‘em, so glad to have you here with us.”
“Thank you Jack, I appreciate your support.” The Reverend smiled though it wasn’t intended so much for Jack as it was a result of the thought that the “punch” came from Jack’s manhandling handshake.
It keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
The Wilson family, complete with mom, dad, grandma, and three very “on fire” boys worked their way up hurriedly. The boys, clamoring to be the first to meet the two young preacher kids, pushed past several other congregants who were in the process of making their acquaintance with the Reverend and family.
“Nathanial, Jeremiah, Luke, settle down boys. Don’t be pushing and rabble rousing in God’s house…Oh, Reverend, we are so very glad to have such a wonderful, young family to lead us,” Grandma Wilson spoke first.
Her son stepped up, “I’m Barry Wilson, pleased to meet you and yours,” he nodded and moved on shooing the boys. “Let’s go boys, dinner’s awaiting.”
“Hi. I’m Nan Wilson. I do hope to have you all over for supper soon, so glad to meet y’all.”
It always protects,
Finally the procession ended. The church was silent. The Reverend and his family still standing in the same spot slowly began to awaken from the blitz of commotion that had just come and gone.
“Are we done now dad?” the children asked as they began to skip around freely.
“No…we are just beginning.” The Reverend clasped his arm around his wife and pulled her close.
1 Corinthians 13:1, 4 -7.