Love never fails

It’s Saturday, April 9. Two days ago, Alice and I drove to Grand Rapids to enjoy a farewell banquet offered by the Board of Trustees of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC). The main purpose of the event was to honour three retiring leaders: Banner Editor Robert DeMoor, World Renew U.S. Director Andy Rijskamp and CRC Executive Director Joel Boot. I had been asked to compose and sing a tribute to the three departing officers, which I managed to compose towards the end of March, more than a month before the event. Of course, the main theme of such a celebration is the triumph of love, which is not to be underestimated during the festivities. However, the impression I may have created during my presentation was that I was not very respectful. My celebratory song was a bit of a diatribe to be honest, as I decided to poke fun at these honourable church leaders. I had fun composing the scandalous verses and was looking forward to making my contribution at the May 7 dinner in Grand Rapids. However, reality interjected itself as I suffered an attack on my brain on March 31. No good deed must go unpunished, I guess.

I made reference to this attack in last month’s editorial, so there’s no need to explore this event further at this time. What may be of interest to the readership is to describe how I actually carried out my promise to serenade the honourable threesome at their doomed banquet on Thursday, May 7, even though my mental skills had been significantly reduced after the end-of-March brain episode. Actually, Andy Rijskamp was smart and failed to attend this banquet, so my attempt to vilify Andy got somewhat lost in my honest attempt to set the record straight. Fortunately, DeMoor and Boot made themselves available for my noble effort to take them down a few pegs.

Stepping up
But it almost did not happen the way I had expected it to. Alice and I did manage to arrive at the celebration dinner on time, even though it took place off campus. For some unknown reason I felt rather faint as I walked into the festive hall. Consequently, I decided to sit down to rest. At that moment I also decided that, instead of delivering the coup de grace to DeMoor and Boot myself, I should allow the master of ceremonies, Chris Van Spronsen, to sing my poem, which he was more than willing to do. But as I started to eat the dinner put in front of me, I began to feel stronger. And then it occurred to me that the lunch I had eaten earlier that afternoon had been extremely low in nutritional value. By the time I had eaten the main course at the celebratory dinner, I felt considerably stronger. So, when it was time to perform my task as presenter of a lively nine-stanza song with three refrains, I was up for the challenge, and performed my part as best as I could. The response of the audience was more than heartening, and I could not believe that I had actually pulled it off.

The rest of the program was equally delightful and funny. When retired seminary professor Henry DeMoor applied his masterful takedown of his brother Robert, the hall lit up again with gales of laughter. The three daughters of Joel Boot added their touch of deep respect when they talked about their love and admiration for their retiring father.

The underlying conviction of most of the guests who attended the banquet was that God had been resourceful in providing space for servants who had been serious about their task to give leadership in their particular corner of the Kingdom. For that to become a reality these leaders had to rely on the power of God’s love in their lives. Without the power of that love they could not have succeeded in their daily tasks. From experience they knew that “[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” The message we can still find in 1 Corinthians 13:7-8 today is as valid now as it was in the early days of the apostles.

A lot of meaning has been packed into that short word “Love.” That’s because the Apostle Paul is pointing at something he himself did not create. No human being is the author of Love. No human being can lay claim to a power that underlies the foundation of this world. Love that never fails is not a created thing. It represents the creator himself. It is the foundation on which all that exists is built.

The most we can hope for is that Love owns us. And for this to occur, we have to surrender ourselves, heart, soul and mind, to the Giver of Love, our faithful and loving God.
And that is what we really celebrated at the Board of Trustees’ dinner held in honour of three senior leaders: Robert DeMoor, Andy Rijskamp and Joel Boot on Thursday evening, May 10, in the year of our Lord 2015.

  • Bert Witvoet is a former educator and editor of various magazines, including the Christian Courier, who lives with his wife, Alice, in St. Catharines, Ontario.

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