Love Potion Number Nine

I Corinthians 13

Today's Scripture lesson read from the Letters of Paul focused on one of the most famous Chapters from the New Testament. And yet, it is really misunderstood. It is often read at weddings, which is fine, but the kind of love St. Paul is speaking of is NOT a romantic love. It is a much higher love than that - love that we, as Christians need to show to everyone as we live our lives.

Love is a word that very few folks understand because in English we have just one word for so many types of love that it is very confusing. There is romantic love, sexual love, brotherly love, family love. In Greek each of those is a different word. And in English, to confuse things even more, we LOVE ice cream, we LOVE the weather, we LOVE an aroma, we LOVE anything and everything.

I titled the sermon today, "Love Potion # 9" recorded by various artists and written back in 1959 and recorded by a different group or person at least once every decade up till 1993. It's really a good example of how we try to manipulate love; how we think we can manufacture it; how we think if we don't have it, we can somehow magically get it. But, as the song relates, it won't work if it's not genuine. (Sing the song)(see last page)

Here's what some kids said on the subject of love. What are most people are thinking when they say I love you? Rachel, 9 years old says, "The person is thinking, 'Yeah, I really do love him. But I hope he showers at least once a day.'" How does a person learn to kiss? -Doug, who is 7 says, "You learn it right on the spot when the gooshy feelings get the best of you." When is it okay to kiss someone? Jean, who is ten, says, "It's never okay to kiss a boy. They slobber all over you. That's why I stopped doing it." And, How do you make love last? Roger, who is 8, says, "Don't forget your wife's name. That will mess up love." And, Randy, who is 8 says, "Be a good kisser. It might make your wife forget you never take out the garbage."

Kids understand love. Here's what some 4-8 year olds think about love. "Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other." "Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, and then he wears it everyday." "When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you." "Love is when mommy sees daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redbird."

And lastly this one, which is such a lesson for us all. "Love is when someone hurts you. And you get so mad but you don't yell at him because you know it would hurt his feelings."

That last one is really a good example of what St. Paul is speaking about concerning love that is spiritual. He has just talked about spiritual gifts in Chapter 12. And he ends the chapter by saying, "And I will show you still a more excellent way." Eugene Peterson, in his translation, THE MESSAGE, puts it this way:

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back, but keeps going to the end.
Love never dies...

But for right now...we have three things to do to lead us... Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.

And the best of the three is love.

That's a spiritual love. It's what we're called to do every day. It's something to strive for in all our relationships. You could even apply it to our relationship to the environment. When it comes to the environment, we so often see folks acting out of a "me first" attitude. Their attitude is, "I count more than the environment," and so they abuse the environment and that affects all of us. That isn't "love cares more for others than for self."

This is such a powerful chapter. It's so disappointing to see it reduced to some sort of physical or mental love, some sort of romantic love between two people. It's so much more. We do it such an injustice, and, of course, totally misinterpret what St. Paul was speaking about, when we reduce it to some sentimental, romantic idea.

He's speaking about the love that Jesus asks us to have for one another. He's trying to show us a more excellent way than trying to compete with each other in saying 'my spiritual gifts are more important than yours." My suggestion is that you read this chapter sometime today, or at the very least, sometime this week. And when you do, think about it with regard to all your relationships, even with strangers, even how you feel about people you hear about but don't know. Think about how you can come to love someone that is totally annoying to you; or someone you can't stand to be around. Put yourself to the challenge. That's what Jesus expects of you. That's what St. Paul is trying to reinforce here.

But for right now...we have three things to do to lead us... Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.

And the best of the three is love.


Love Potion Number 9

I took my troubles down to Madame Rue.
You know that gypsy with the gold capped tooth
She' got a pad down on 34th and Vine,
Selling little bottles of Love Potion #9.

I told her that I was a flop with chicks.
I've been disgraced since 1956.
She looked at my palm and she made a magic sign.
She said what you need is Love Potion number 9.

She bent down and turned around and gave me a wink.
She said I'm gonna make it up right here in the sink.
It smelled like turpentine, and looked like Indian ink.
I held my nose, I closed my eyes, I took a drink!

I didn't know if it was day or night.
I started kissing everything in sight.
But when I kissed a cop down on 34th and Vine.
He broke my little bottle of Love Potion number 9.

By Leiber/Stoller - Recorded by The Clovers and The Searchers

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