Every year my son’s church in Blue Earth (Hope United Methodist) runs a booth at the county fair serving their famous “Divine Swine”, a deep-fried, bacon-wrapped, cheddar bratwurst on a stick. It’s the ultimate fair food. It’s also a lot of work, but a good fundraiser – except for this year. This year, they barely broke even.

The problem was that this year the fair had no carnival. The company that usually provides the rides and games cancelled for unknown reasons. No Ferris wheels or Tilt-A-Whirls, no ring toss or balloon pop games, no funhouses or funnel cakes. As you can imagine, attendance was way down. What’s a fair without a carnival?

The Apostle Paul would ask the same thing about Christians and love. What’s a Christian without love? He writes in 1 Corinthians 13:1-2:

What if I could speak all languages of humans and even of angels?
If I did not love others, I would be nothing more than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
What if I could prophesy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge?
And what if I had faith that moved mountains?
I would be nothing unless I loved others.

We often hear these words at weddings where love seems easy. But Jesus tells us this applies even when love isn’t easy. He says in the Sermon on the Mount “You have heard people say, “Love your neighbors and hate your enemies.” But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for this? Even tax collectors love their friends. But you must always act like your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6). 

God loves us even when we are not very lovable. Jesus tells us to act like that towards others. Because what’s a Christian without love? It’s like a fair without a carnival. Or, as Paul says, nothing more than a clanging symbol. Just a lot of noise.

Love in Christ,

Pastor Mark