Preparing for Worship – LeAnn Hampton.
“Words mean something,” a common phrase in our home, is usually uttered by my professional writer husband. As this sermon series began with I Corinthians 13:13, “And now faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love,” I realized I’ve always rushed past the richness of “abide” to read “but the greatest of these is love.”
Dictionaries indicate the word abide can be used in many ways, but in this setting, it conveys the idea of staying, or “continuing without fading or being lost.” Abide implies stability, steady commitment and perseverance regardless of the circumstances, like the “trees planted by streams of water” mentioned in our Psalm today.
Somehow, just hearing the word abide is comforting, but my heart longs for flesh-and-blood, right-in-front-of-me examples of how faith, hope and love abide. I’ve been thinking about where and when I’ve witnessed it. For me, my parents provided living examples during my father’s battle with dementia. Although the disease stripped him of so many things, we still saw his abiding faith. During their daily devotional times, my mother chose a familiar hymn, and my father would sing his faith, remembering all the verses he had sung throughout his life. Abiding love was evident in the way Mom continued to care for Dad at home even when he often did not remember who she was. Dad gave us an example of abiding hope during his final days. He obviously saw something we could not see. He smiled frequently, and when asked, he would sometimes give descriptions of a place of beauty with many people present there — maybe a hint of resurrection?
God wants us to understand that faith, hope and love still abide. While we have the examples of Jesus and the way he interacted with people, maybe, like me, you need an example from your everyday life. For you, it might be the parent or teacher whose faith in you allowed you to believe in yourself. Maybe it’s been the abiding love on display from our health care workers who have persevered during the challenges of the pandemic. It might have been the friend who reached out to you at the time you most needed it, giving you hope.
As we worship together today, think about the ways you’ve seen God’s abiding faith, hope and love, and give thanks.