Yr A ~ Epiphany 2 ~ 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
If you could write a letter to “the Church” that you knew every church member would read, what would you say? Would you be encouraging or critical? Would you compliment folks’ efforts or chastise folks’ for not being engaged enough? Would you focus on the positives or dig in to the challenges and struggles? Would you cast a vision or patch up problems? Would you pray for them? Well, if the year is 0055, and your name is Paul, your answer would be “all of the above”!
We’re going to spend a few weeks touring through Paul’s first recorded letter to the church he planted in the city called Corinth. Corinth was a busy cosmopolitan city and the church community that gathered under Paul’s initiative was very diverse – socially, ethnically, economically, spiritually. We kind of have this sense that back in the day everybody did Christianity the same way because it hadn’t been around long enough to get corrupted and messed up. But the truth is that Christianity was radically diverse from the very start – and each planted community of faith had its own style, theology, strengths, and challenges.
So what do you think would prompt Paul to write a letter to this church that he had planted some time earlier? I’d like to tell you it was to congratulate them on their awesomeness – but really he was writing because they were messed up. They’d lost their focus. They had too many divergent ideas about what was most important. They had brought too much of their worldly hierarchy into the church and not committed deeply enough to living the way Paul taught them, a way that Paul learned through his own profound spiritual encounters with the risen Christ and his nurture with other early followers of Jesus.
Now, before we go any further let me say that while I’m going to draw parallels and insights from the Corinthian church I’m more comparing them to the Church in general than I am to Faith United. We’re not perfect, but we do a pretty good job of keeping the main thing the main thing – of focusing on communion, compassion, and connection – loving God, loving people, and loving one another. So as I move through Paul’s intro today you’ll hear themes that you’ve heard before, but we (the Church) still need to keep being reminded of them over and over again. read on