Love That Grows

Love That Grows


Rev. Lindsey Peterson lives in Belchertown, MA and works with the Sojourner Truth School for Social Change Leadership.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (NRSV)

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. And 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. If 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.

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

 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. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When 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. For 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. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Reflection: Love That Grows

“River come, take us in, we need to swim in you. River come, call our names, we need to be in your arms again.” - River Song 

I wrote this song last summer, as I was accompanying an indigenous elder, Grandmother Carole, on a Water Walk along the Howsatunnuck (Housatonic) River. We walked near to the river every day for a month. The rhythm of the river became our rhythm. My partner observed that when she returned to the walk after a couple days away she felt like the river greeted her. Walking the river was ceremony. It was full-body immersion in the rhythm, strength, stories, pain, generosity and love of the river. River Song came out of the quality of attention to and presence with the river I felt as we walked the ceremony, and from the hunger for the love that was found there. 

We had been in ceremony all day. The Indigenous Peoples March was ceremony. This is important to understand as you watch and read about the events between the Covington Catholic boys, the Black Israelites and Omaha Nation elder Nathan Phillips. The indigenous people gathered there had invoked the ancestors, had greeted the four directions, had smudged the sacred ground and people, had been drumming and moving and speaking all day as ceremony. 

One of Sunday’s lectionary texts is 1 Corinthians 13. “Love is patient, love is kind,” it reads, “love never ends.” 

Love grows inside of ceremony. I am learning this, maybe being reminded of it, from time spent among indigenous people. I am grateful for their generosity in sharing their ceremony, for welcoming my participation, and for offering ceremony on behalf of all creation. Love grows inside of ceremony; a love that is patient and kind and as strong and generous as a river. 

Nathan Phillips was carrying the river in his drum. He was carrying loving prayer. He was carrying the healing gifts that come from being immersed in ceremony. This is important. He did not move toward the Covington boys out of ego and certainly not out of aggression. With the drum and his body, he was bringing the ceremony as an offering, as healing prayer. For me, when I see the image of Nathan Phillips with the drum and Nick Sandmann in his face, what I see is him offering Sandmann and the whole group of boys there the love that grows in ceremony; a love that is patient and kind and as strong and generous as a river.

Phillips has offered to meet with the Covington Catholic teens. This generosity speaks to the strength of the love in the ceremony Phillips is a part of. 

To be clear, native ceremony belongs to natives; it does not belong to us non-natives and is not ours to appropriate. But we can participate in ceremony when they invite our participation. And we can be recipients of the strong love that grows in it and which is offered on behalf of all creation. Furthermore, we can use our privilege as non-natives, and especially white non-natives, to advocate for the rights of native people to their ceremony, to land, water - to their lives.  

“River come, take us in, we need to swim in you. River come, call our names, we need to be in your arms again.” - River Song 

To hear Lindsey playing "River Song" visit


New Prayer Requests:

We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at

Prayers of Intercession:

  • For those grieving or suffering in Brazil after mining waste water from a ruptured dam tore through a mining facility and nearby community killing at least 58 and leaving over 300 missing.
  • For those grieving after a shooting in Louisiana on Saturday left 5 dead.
  • For those who will face the extreme cold weather expected this week in much of the northern U.S states with little or no shelter.

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:

  • For those federal workers who will receive paychecks again and can go back to work

Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:

First Congregational Church of Haddam, UCC
Haddam Neck
Haddam Neck Congregational Church
Hadlyme Congregational Church UCC
Dunbar United Church of Christ
Mount Carmel Congregational

This Week in History:
Jan. 29, 1979, (40 years ago) 16-year old Brenda Spencer kills two men and wounds nine children at the Grover Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego. It was the first recorded mass shooting at an elementary school in the U.S. Spencer is currently serving  25 years to life in California.

Lindsey Peterson

Lindsey Peterson is a General Synod delegate and is the Designated Term Pastor at the South Congregational Church in Springfield, MA.

January 28, 2019
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