The Apostle Paul emphasizes the centrality of love to a community experiencing conflict. Then he offers a description by which we will recognize love. Faith, hope, and love abide, but the greatest of these is love. Not only are we called to live God’s love, but God gives us the power to do so. Love makes our actions truly worthwhile.

Pr. Todd Mathison

The Greatest is Love

Power of the Holy Spirit
1 Corinthians 13:1-8a,13
May 5, 2024
The Apostle Paul emphasizes the centrality of love to a community experiencing conflict. Then he offers a description by which we will recognize love. Faith, hope, and love abide, but the greatest of these is love. Not only are we called to live God’s love, but God gives us the power to do so. Love makes our actions truly worthwhile.

The greatest is love, love, love. It’s what the world needs now. Love is all you need. Love me tender. Love me sweet. You see where I’m going with this? I just called to say I love you. I can’t help falling in love with you. Love, it’s a word that’s so often used and I think somewhat. carelessly bandied about somewhat frivolously today. We’ll say I love you to our spouse and then just a couple breaths later saying I love this pizza or I love this vacation spot or this song whatever it is. And sometimes language can blur the meaning of a word. I mean in English we have this word love but in our biblical text today and what Fred 1st John And by the way, we’re going to be in 1 Corinthians 13, the great love chapter. Um, there’s a different word that’s used there. There’s actually at least four different words in the Greek language in which the New Testament was written that gets translated just by this one English word. There’s Philia Love, City of Brotherly Love, from which the city of Philadelphia gets its name. There’s Storge, which is kind of an expansion on that. It’s like familial love. Love between, you know, parents and children, grandparents, family. There’s the Greek word, eros, sensual or passionate love, from which we get the word erotic. And then in our biblical text is this word agape. There’s no real English transliteration of it, but agape love at its core and heart is unconditional love, a love characterized by selflessness. Compassion, this unconditional care for the other. It’s a love that transcends personal interests and desires. Agape love seeks the well being and happiness of the other, regardless of the circumstance that they’re in at that time or the nature of the relationship itself. And is an unconditional love the kind of love we’d all want to receive? Or could I say love to receive? Pun intended. So if you have your Bibles or your devices, follow along with me in one Corinthians chapter 13. I’m gonna read just some straight on definitions of what love is. One Corinthians 13, beginning at verse four. Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast.

It is not proud. It does not dishonor others. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It always protects. Always trusts. Always hopes. Always. Love never fails. And now these three remain, faith and love. But the greatest of these. Let us pray as we continue. Thank you for your active and powerful word in the scriptures, living God. Showing that you are love. And showing us what true unconditional love is. Now, send your Holy Spirit and work in power within us, Holy Spirit, that we may see God’s love for us, be glad to be embraced by it, and then may it transform our lives to reflect your love to others around us. To the glory of Jesus, in whose name I pray, Amen. Dear friends, grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. You know, as a pastor, I’ve had the privilege of presiding at many weddings of wonderful couples. And yet, I think not a wedding ceremony goes by that I don’t think, I wonder if they really get what they’re promising, and I don’t think they really do. I mean, truth be told, I didn’t at my own wedding. I mean, think about the commitments that are made in common wedding vows. For better, for worse. For richer. Say it with me. For In sickness and in Till Do us part. Whoa! Come on. Those are huge commitments of permanent, unconditional love. Really tragically for many couples, once they experience the worse, poorer, or sickness part. of those lives, of a life, a married life, people are sorely tempted to break their vows or vacate their promises and abandon their loved one. It seems to me that today, often when people say, I love you, what they really mean is I like you, meaning their affection for the other.

It’s based on how that other person makes them feel or what they receive from the other. I think our culture commonly mistakes like for love. Falling in like typically involves this excitement that’s often a new connection driven by emotional attraction. It’s often spontaneously, spontaneous, always exhilarating. Focusing on the pleasure derived from the company of the other. And while enjoyable and thrilling, this type of affection is almost always temporary. And can change rapidly. It is not the kind of unconditional love we read about. For when the conditions are not met, well, the relationship is at risk. In contrast, agape love, described here in the Bible. It’s a love that transcends emotions. It encompasses a deliberate choice, a predisposition to prioritize the well being of the other above your own desires. And in a world where relationships falter at the first sign of hardship, agape love, it stands as a beacon of hope, a commitment to love, not just when it’s easy, but especially when it’s hard. Think with me on just the straight on way the Bible talks about what unconditional love really is. Love is patient, meaning it waits with unwavering endurance, bearing the burdens of the other without complaint or a desire to run away. Agape love is kind. It extends a gentle hand to the other when in need, offering compassion and understanding without conditions or expectations. It seeks to uplift and to comfort a weary soul. Agape love does not envy or boast. It does not seek its own glory. Instead, agape love rejoices in the successes of the other, finding joy in their achievements and blessings. Agape love is not proud or self seeking. It humbly serves, putting the needs of the other before its own, recognizing and validating the inherent worth and dignity of the beloved, treating them with respect, and thereby bestowing value upon them. Agape love is not easily angered, nor does it keep a record of wrongs. It forgives freely and fully, letting go of past hurts and grievances and embracing the grace of reconciliation, of healing and holding on to the promise and goal of restoration. And finally, Agape love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres, never fails. It’s a beacon of light in the darkest of times. It’s a steadfast anchor. Amidst the storms of life, and is that not the kind of love with which we desire to receive? Is that not the kind of love that’s promised during wedding ceremonies? But ah, the prevailing sentiment and value in our culture is anything but unconditional love.

I’m reminded of um, a scene in a TV show called Ted Lasso. The opening episode in season three, there’s a favorite romantic couple in the show, Roy and Keely, and they’re about to break up and they got to sit down with Roy’s 10 year old niece and tell her that they’re splitting. And I found it strangely revealing how the writers wrote that scene for this 10 year old girl. Upon hearing the news, this niece, 10 year old niece, here’s it reflects a little bit. And then she goes, you know, I was four years old when my parents got divorced. And I guess one thing I’ve learned about life, it’s this. Nothing is permanent. A ten year old already being jaded about what true love is. It’s tragic. And yet, isn’t that an all too commonly held value and view in relationships today? Relationships are readily disposable. And in contrast to that stands agape love. Divine love with which we’ve been loved and then are called to love others. This agape love, it’s a worthy goal. And yet I would do you a disservice as if as your pastor they said, well, you got to go out, you got to love, you got to be patient, kind, etc, etc. Because if you’re at all like me, my own resources, my reservoir of unconditional love, it’s limited. I’m just being honest, but I don’t think I’m the only one in this room that might have that issue. Our human capacity to love unconditionally, it’s not limitless. And even our best efforts to consistently love the other unconditionally, our resolve can wear out over time and trouble. And we ultimately fail, often, to offer someone unconditional love. And this is where the power of the Holy Spirit is essential in the life of the Christian. That’s the series we’re in. We’re looking at love under the auspices of the power of the Holy Spirit. It takes a supernatural work, in other words, of the Holy Spirit. Produce divine love in our own lives. And when you reflect on the specifics of what agape love is, you know, it’s actually remarkably similar to elsewhere in the New Testament where the Bible talks about the fruit of the Spirit. Meaning, what a Christian’s life looks like when living in the power of the Holy Spirit.

It’s in Galatians 5, where the Bible says the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Here’s some of those parallels with our text out of the love chapter. Check. Gentleness, self control. Faithfulness. Check, check, check. I mean, these are characteristics of the work of the Holy Spirit within the life of a Christian, producing a life in which the Christian treats others the same way that God has treated us. And what I have found is that to the degree that we abide in this agape love, we can find ourselves inspired and even strengthened to love others. Just as God has loved us, not just when it’s easy, not just when they’re lovable, but when they’re unlovable, when it’s challenging. And this understanding shifts our focus from seeking someone else to meet our needs to actively loving others just as God has loved us generously, completely, without condition. And by embracing, or maybe better put, being embraced, By this divine love, we are transformed from merely liking someone to genuinely loving them. And this love has the power to transform lives, to heal emotional scars, and to mirror God’s heart to a hurting world. I like to say to couples either in premarital counseling or in the ceremony itself, that abiding love, unconditional love, the love to which they are making promises and vows, It’s not so much about finding the right person as it is being the right person. And this all starts and it ends with God’s love for us. Listen to this remarkable insight that Fred read for us from 1 John 4 just a bit earlier. We love Him because He first loved us. In other words, God is the one who initiates. God is the active agent in demonstrating and giving unconditional love in our own lives. And then He is the one who gives us the power. To love others the same way. But the passage Fred read in 1 John gives further definition of divine love. It says this is love, not that we love God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Oh friends, Divine love? God’s love?

It’s more than a list of characteristics that we can read through. It’s divine love in action. In fact, it’s love seen in sacrificial action. For the passage says elsewhere, this is how God love showed, how God showed his love among us. He sent his one and only son into the world that we might live in peace. Ultimately, agape love finds its origin and culmination in the love of the divine. God’s love demonstrated most specifically and deeply through the sacrificial gift of his Son, serving as the ultimate reality of selfless devotion. And that is what we are about to remember as we prepare our hearts to come to the Lord’s table, communion. And now these three remain. hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. Let us pray. Father in heaven, we are humbled by the depth of your unconditional love for us. You are the source of all true love and your love knows no bounds. Help us to grasp the magnitude of your love, which sent your son as a sacrifice for our sins. Fill our hearts with your divine love. That we may truly love those near and dear to us, as well as become a beacon of your light, spreading your love to others and bringing healing to a broken world. I ask this in the powerful name of Jesus Christ.

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Follow Jesus

Whether you are new in faith or are seeking to deepen your walk with Jesus, we are eager to connect with you.

Don’t hesitate to reach us out at (480) 830-5024, or message us filling the form below.

GriefShare

The GriefShare Program is a 13-week series of videos that we watch each week of the meeting. Each weekly GriefShare group begins with a 30-minute video featuring respected experts on grief-related topics and helpful stories from people who have experienced loss. Their insights will help you manage your emotions, gain clarity, and find answers to your questions as you walk through the grief process. We welcome everyone who has a loss; whether it be a child or a parent or spouse.

The videos are followed by discussion. Talking with other people who understand what you’re experiencing brings great comfort, normalizes the grief experience, and offers a supportive environment to work through your grief.

Each session stands alone, so you can join anytime. Consider a single session to learn about the program.

We meet every Monday from 12:30-2:30pm here at Victory.
Check out the schedule.

Sign up today!

Do you have more questions? 
Don’t hesitate to reach us out at (480) 830-5024, or message us filling the form below.
Learn more about GriefShare at their webpage: www.griefshare.org.

WOMEN’S MINISTRY

We meet throughout the year on the 2nd Tuesday of the month for Bible Study.

Summer Schedule (May-Sept): 2nd Tuesday of the month all groups meet together on campus at 9:30am

Winter Schedule (Oct-April): 2nd Tuesday of the month

Esperanza Bible Study – 9:30am

Mary Bible Study – 1:30pm (in home)


Women’s Ministry

PURPOSE STATEMENT

As a community of women created in the image of God, called to discipleship in Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we commit ourselves to grow in faith, affirm our gifts,  support one another in our callings, engage in ministry and action, and promote healing and wholeness in the church, the society, and the world.

We meet throughout the year on the 2nd Tuesday of the month for Bible Study:

Summer Schedule (May-Sept)

2nd Tuesday of the month all groups meet together on campus at 9:30 am.

Winter Schedule (Oct-April)

  • 2nd Tuesday of the month
  • Esperanza Bible Study - 9:30am
  • Naomi Bible Study - 2:00 pm
  • Mary Bible Study - 1:30 pm (in-home)
  • Women’s Ministry

    PURPOSE STATEMENT

    As a community of women created in the image of God, called to discipleship in Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we commit ourselves to grow in faith, affirm our gifts,  support one another in our callings, engage in ministry and action, and promote healing and wholeness in the church, the society, and the world.

    We meet throughout the year on the 2nd Tuesday of the month for Bible Study:

    Summer Schedule (May-Sept)

    2nd Tuesday of the month all groups meet together on campus at 9:30 am.

    Winter Schedule (Oct-April)

  • 2nd Tuesday of the month
  • Esperanza Bible Study - 9:30am
  • Naomi Bible Study - 2:00 pm
  • Mary Bible Study - 1:30 pm (in-home)
  • Stephen Ministry

    Stephen Ministry equips lay people to provide confidential one-to-one Christian care to individuals in our congregation and community who are experiencing a difficult time in life, such as grief, divorce, job loss, chronic or terminal illness, or relocation.

    Stephen Ministers are trained by their congregation’s Stephen Leaders using resources from Stephen Ministries St. Louis. The training they receive in the congregation equips them to provide high-quality care to people who are hurting.

    Care receivers are individuals in the congregation or community who are going through a crisis or life difficulty. Potential care receivers first meet with a pastor or Stephen Leader, who assesses their needs for care and matches them with a Stephen Minister.

    After being matched with a person experiencing a life crisis, the Stephen Minister meets with that person on a weekly basis for about an hour to listen, care, encourage, and provide emotional and spiritual support. The caring relationship lasts as long as the need for care exists.

    “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2, NRSV)

    FAMILY PROMISE

    Four times a year we host families experiencing homelessness at Victory for a week at a time. Volunteers needed to set up rooms, preparing a meal, serve/clean-up dinner or stay as an overnight host.

    Upcoming Host Weeks: April 16-23, 2023 & November 112-19, 2023

    STEPHEN MINISTRY

    Stephen Ministers are lay congregation members trained to provide one-to-one care to those experiencing a difficult time in life. 

    GRIEFSHARE

    A grief recovery support group where you can find help and healing for the hurt of losing a loved one.

    13-week Program: Mondays, 12:30-2:30pm, February 13-May 8, 2023
    (No meeting April 10th)
    GriefShare.org

    LSS-SW

    Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest (LSS-SW)

    I-HELP PROGRAM: We provide a safe and secure place for women who are currently experiencing homelessness the 2nd & 4th Thursday of the month.

    FOOD PANTRY: Food boxes distributed Mondays & Wednesdays, 9:00-11:30am.
    Utility & rental assistance by appointment only 480-654-4539.

    Victory Quilters

    We meet the 3rd Tuesday and Wednesday of the month at 8:30am. Come when you can, stay as long as you can; everyone can cut, sew, pin and tie knots. You do not need to be a church or circle member to attend. Bring a friend! The quilts are donated to Navajo Lutheran Mission, Orchard: Africa and Lutheran Social Ministries. We typically break for the summer. Please check schedule.

    MUSIC MINISTRY

    Ensembles at Victory practice weekly during the high season to prepare for weekly worship and special events. In addition, many people share their talents individually. Click here for our concert line-up!

    NAVAJO LUTHERAN MISSION

    Serving the Navajo community of Rock Point, AZ, a remote, isolated village near the Four Corners. The Mission campus includes a K-2 private Christian school, clinic, cultural center, water project and food bank.  (nelm.org)

    FAIR TRADE

    Victory Women support Lutheran World Relief (lwr.org) by selling Fair Trade hand-made crafts, jewelry, coffee and tea that generates income for small-scale businesses in third world countries. 

    OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD

    A “shoebox ministry” of Samaritan’s Purse, delivering gift-filled shoeboxes to boys and girls around the world.

    ORCHARD: AFRICA

    To equip the church to respond to poverty & injustice, thereby caring for the vulnerable using four programs: Food & Agriculture, Care, Education and Ministry.  (orchardafrica.org)

    Stephen Ministry

    Stephen Ministry equips lay people to provide confidential one-to-one Christian care to individuals in our congregation and community who are experiencing a difficult time in life, such as grief, divorce, job loss, chronic or terminal illness, or relocation.

    Stephen Ministers are trained by their congregation’s Stephen Leaders using resources from Stephen Ministries St. Louis. The training they receive in the congregation equips them to provide high-quality care to people who are hurting.

    Care receivers are individuals in the congregation or community who are going through a crisis or life difficulty. Potential care receivers first meet with a pastor or Stephen Leader, who assesses their needs for care and matches them with a Stephen Minister.

    After being matched with a person experiencing a life crisis, the Stephen Minister meets with that person on a weekly basis for about an hour to listen, care, encourage, and provide emotional and spiritual support. The caring relationship lasts as long as the need for care exists.

    “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2, NRSV)

    WOMEN’S MINISTRY

    Welcome to the vibrant women’s ministry at Victory Lutheran Church! As a community of women created in the image of God, called to discipleship in Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are committed to growing in faith, affirming our gifts, and supporting one another in our callings. Our purpose is to engage in ministry and action, promoting healing and wholeness in the church, society, and the world. At Victory Lutheran Church, our women’s ministry provides a nurturing and empowering space for women of all ages to connect, grow, and serve together. Through uplifting worship, inspiring Bible studies, enriching events, and impactful service opportunities, we equip women to live out their God-given purpose and embrace their unique gifts. Join us as we journey together, fostering fellowship, spiritual growth, and making a lasting impact within our church, our families, and our wider community.

    PURPOSE STATEMENT

    As a community of women created in the image of God, called to discipleship in Jesus Christ,  and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we commit ourselves to grow in faith, affirm our gifts,  support one another in our callings, engage in ministry and action, and promote healing and wholeness in the church, the society, and the world.

    We meet throughout the year on the 2nd Tuesday of the month for Bible Study:

    Summer Schedule (May-Sept)

    2nd Tuesday of the month all groups meet together on campus at 9:30am.

    Winter Schedule (Oct-April)

    • 2nd Tuesday of the month
    • Esperanza Bible Study – 9:30am
    • Naomi Bible Study – 2:00pm
    • Mary Bible Study – 1:30pm (in home)