And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? 4 For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely human? 1 Corinthians 3
Had we just picked up reading the letter to Corinth with is gem, we might think Paul sounds a little "Too big for his britches", as my grandmother would say. Yet, we know that Paul just confessed his own fear and trembling in the previous chapter. Paul says as long as we quarrel we are not ready for solid food. As long as we try to score political points, prove who is right and wrong, and how much smarter we are than others, we still don't get what it means to follow Jesus together. As I child, I learned that great rhyme, "Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the door and see all the people." What that rhyme did not teach me is that people can sometimes cause a lot of hurt and harm to each other. That rhyme did not tell me that when we argue and bicker with each other inside the church, the sermon our communal life together is preaching, enters a dissonant chord not easily resolved. That rhyme did not tell me that within the church there are moments others will grate on us and challenge us and we might be tempted to try that other church down the road a piece...where the grass looks a little greener.
On the one hand we can be frustrated about this image of milk...on the other we can see that it is as essential as water to sustaining and strengthening us. You never really outgrow milk. I try to drink milk everyday. Likewise in the church, we never really outgrow our need to learn and deepen our connections to each other and to God. One of the hardest obstacles to overcome is that of seeing Confirmation of youth as graduation from the church. One reason it is an obstacle is that the child is getting older and the crafts/games of Sunday School may not be meaningful any longer. That does not mean, however, that they (or any adult) has it all figured out. Yet, how often do we, as adults model such life-long learning? How often do we participate in Bible study, book discussions, or small groups? How often do we keep striving to move deeper into the mystery of our baptism? Or do we switch to autopilot and set the cruise for status quo? To be sure, I get that. It takes energy and effort to keep reading. It takes energy and effort to keep exploring new ideas, some of which I don't like or even offend me. It takes energy and effort to engage our faith. Yet, when we don't, we stay stuck in our understandings of God, Jesus, the Spirit, the church, and why we do what we do when we do it. There is always more mystery to explore...God is not done with us yet.
How many of us act like God is finished? How many of you have written a statement of faith recently? I know I have not. How many of you have sat down and read the Bible? And for preachers like me, the preaching passage doesn't qualify. How many of us pray? Our faith is a verb, a living part of our being. And in order to keep moving and growing, faith needs nourishment. Hopefully, worship does that. Hopefully, you have other ways on the other days of the week.
What is nourishing your faith right now?
I pray you sense the presence of God moving in ways that cause you to grow and move and live deeper in God's grace and love.
Alleluia and Amen.