Read 1 John 4:7-13

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

from Rev. Dr. Bonnie Bowman Thurston, Wheeling, WV:

In the wider Church 1 John comprises the daily lectionary after Christmas because it reminds us that the initiative in salvation (which the coming of Jesus signals) is God’s. We love because God first loved us. According to John, God’s intention is that our response to that divine gift is to love each other, not with the sticky, sentimental luv of trashy television, but with the love for which Christ’s cross is origin, model and source.

Wouldn’t it be novel (and better exegesis) if we heard this text instead of 1 Corinthians 13 at weddings? It says the Lenten (and marital) “sacrifices pleasing to God” are those we make in Christ-like, self-emptying service (love) to one another. Verse 12 suggests if we don’t feel God’s consolation and presence, it might be because of our unlovely attitudes and actions towards those who are right here.

Loving God, may this Lenten season deepen my gratitude

for the mystery of Christ’s atoning sacrifice.

As I meditate on His cross, show me how to love more deeply.