Through the Looking Glass

1 Corinthians 13: 12

12 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.

Paul’s great discourse on Love, is beloved of so many brides on their wedding day, and since 6th September 1997 is very often used at funerals too. Quite rightly too, it sums up magnificently what love is and isn’t, but it also confirms the connections between Divine love and human love. As we hear or read again about how central love is, what love is and isn’t, and reflect on that before reaching the great finale that love alone of all emotions is eternal, this verse tends to get overlooked.

The King James translation has it  For now we see through a glass, darkly; which possibly obscures (no pun intended) the point. In modern English we rarely refer to a mirror as a looking glass (except where a young lady called Alice is concerned possibly) and probably never as simply “glass”.

In many ways though this verse is the crux of the whole passage.

We possibly carry with us a childlike view of love, the love we have shared with our parents and family (hopefully shared, I know that tragically that is not always the way) but the Divine love of God although reflected in human love is in fact far far greater; so great that we can barely imagine how great it is.

When the last solar eclipse occurred a few years ago we were advised not to look direct at the sun but rather to watch it reflected on a sheet of paper or other surface. We had a white car at the time and it gave us a perfect view. It was a great sight.

So too is God’s love, but perhaps if we were to see it all at once it would overwhelm us, so we can only see it as if we were trying to see our own face in a tarnished imperfect mirror. We know our face exists, we know what it feels like but can we truly appreciate it unless we can see it clearly complete, as Cromwell says ‘with warts and all’?

Paul was writing long before photography of course, but had he known of lenses and cameras would he perhaps have written “For now we see as through a dirty lens out of focus”? The object is as beautiful or otherwise as it is it’s only our perception that changes when we see it clearly.


Lord God, our loving Father in Heaven, we know it is only the splendour of  light hideth thee, may we see through the brightness to see your love in action.   At this time of doubt, fear and trouble, let us see your love in action, that we may clearly see you in all things and worship you in love.

In your Mercy hear our prayer,