Ducks and Geese (06-07-2021)
Reading (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour 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 with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Last Friday Rob and I went for a walk around part of Pitsford Reservoir. As we were walking along the path we smiled and greeted other walkers, as you do, with the usual greetings of ‘Good morning’ or ‘Lovely day isn’t it?’ and they would smile and greet us back in return. As we were walking towards a bench we saw a lady sitting looking out over the water. As we approached the bench we smiled at each other and shared a greeting and then she engaged us in conversation. She told us how she had been watching a group of ducks for some while. She was surprised to have seen so many mallards all together; she had counted 24 in total and she thought that that was more than she had ever seen in one group together. She found it difficult to explain as it was not something she would have expected to see. We too looked over towards the ducks and agreed that it was a large group to see together. We wished each other a good day and on we went with our walk.
On our return journey along the same stretch of water we saw the group of ducks again, only this time they were much closer to us than they had been the time before and we could see them much clearer. So much clearer in fact that it became clear to us that they were not mallards after all and that what had appeared to be a group of ducks from a distance was in fact a group of geese. When we could not see clearly we had been mistaken about what we were looking at but close up, with a clear view, the mystery of the large group of ducks was solved.
This made me think of the reading, often heard at weddings, from 1 Corinthians 13 and in particular verse 12 where Paul says ‘For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.’ When we could only see the geese from a distance we mistook them for ducks, we did not understand what it was that we were looking at, but when we were able to see them face to face we knew exactly what they were.
We may feel as if there are many things in this world that we do not understand, questions that we are not able to answer and that many things are simply a mystery to us. Paul reassures us that in time we will understand, but at the moment all we need to do is a trust that God knows what he is doing and that in the end it will all work out to his plan. It may well take until we are able to see Jesus face to face for us to understand all that we wish we could, but until then we live by faith and trust God for our future.
Father God, help us to live by faith and to trust you completely.