Summary: This message looks at how the addition of love makes everything else in our Christian faith better.
The Summer of Love Intro
The year was 1967, I had just turned seven years old, Canada was celebrating its centennial and two events happened that would mark and define the United States for years to come.
The first one took place mostly along the East Coast of the US and was referred to as “The Long hot summer of 1967” and it referred to the 159 race riots that erupted across the United States that summer. It was not a proud summer for the US.
On the other coast the city of San Francisco was bracing itself for an onslaught of “Hippies”. College and High school students had been streaming into the Haight-Ashbury district since spring break and the local authorities determined to stop the influx just brought more attention to the event.
By the time the summer was done over 100,000 so called hippies had converged on the city.
A number of groups and organizations in the community responded to the perceived crisis by forming the “Council of the Summer of Love”, which of course gave the summer it’s name.
The council coordinated efforts of community groups and churches to assist with free clinics, housing, food, sanitation and concerts.
Who were these hippies? Well sometimes they were called flower children but they were really an eclectic group. Made up mostly of folks in their mid-teens to mid-twenties who had avowed to not trust anyone over thirty. Most were suspicious of the government, rejected consumeristic lifestyles and opposed the Vietnam war. A few were interested in politics; others were more concerned with art, music and poetry while others embraced various world religions. It really was a mixed bag.
But it was also from this group that we saw the “Jesus Movement” of the late sixties take root and people lives are still being impacted by the churches that were formed out of that movement.
And wrap your head around the fact that the youngest of those counter culture hippies are now in their mid to late sixties and early seventies and some have grandkids who are over thirty.
It was at the summer of Love that Timothy Leary first used the phrase, "Turn on, tune in, drop out" and the song "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)", written by John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas, became the unofficial anthem of the summer.
I said all that to say that we are calling this Summer at Cornerstone the “Summer of Love” and for the next 10 weeks we will be focusing on 1 Corinthians 13, which is often referred to as the “Love Chapter” of the bible. We read a portion of the chapter earlier but now we are going to read all 13 verses together.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when full understanding comes, these partial things will become useless. When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
And that’s where we are going to park for the Summer of Love.
Really though, 1 Corinthians 13 can’t be taken completely in isolation. It is part of an entire letter that was written by the apostle Paul to the Christ Followers who made up the church in Corinth, which was a city in Greece.