Nothing Less

By Elizabeth Baumann

A Reading from 1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

1 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.


When my husband and I were engaged, a dear priest friend really encouraged us to put together a little betrothal ceremony which became part of our engagement party. I finally prepared my betrothal vow the morning of the day, and it was this passage that we have this morning. Ever since I have remembered saying: “I’m promising this not because I think I can do it, but because the calling is to nothing less.”

And that is love. It’s not merely polite and soft-spoken, all-welcoming and non-confrontational. Even that would be pretty hard sometimes for most of us. Love requires truth and persistence and infinite flexibility and the ability to make peace and the ability to stand firm — and knowing when to do what! We are called to it, knowing that the calling will include failing a lot. That’s okay. We are people who believe in repentance and forgiveness. We believe that Christ comes to live in us and make the impossible possible.

I love that today is All Saints’ Day, because if the wonderful variety of the saints shows us nothing else, it’s that Jesus can make saints of us each regardless of our sins, shortcomings, temperaments, and handicaps — if we’ll only give him our whole selves to work with, and be willing to risk committing to what he calls us to, nothing less than sanctity, even when we know we can’t do it.

The Rev. Dr. Dane Neufeld is the rector of All Saints Fort McMurray at the end of a highway in Northern Alberta.

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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Church of the Province of West Africa and the Most Revd. Dr. Jonathan Bau-Bau Bonaparte Hart (Primate and Metropolitan)
All Saints’ Episcopal Church, San Diego, California


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