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Showing posts from June, 2015

Being the Church: Facing Hard Times

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Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain....What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”“Where, O death, is your victory?  Where…

Being the Church Today: Worship

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What should be done then, my friends? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn; and let one interpret. But if there is no one to interpret, let them be silent in church and speak to themselves and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to someone else sitting nearby, let the first person be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged. And the spirits of prophets are subject to the prophets, for God is a God not of disorder but of peace. 1 Corinthians 14
Worship is central and core to who I am.  It often feels like my week leads up to, climaxes at Sunday morning worship.  Monday is a chance to reflect prayerfully on what went well and what could be better.  Tuesday starts the cycle over again. …

Being the church today: Love

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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.  1 Corinthians 13:1-4
This is the climax of the letter, a treatise on love.  A vision for what it means to be whole and holy in relationship with each other.  A prayer written, not for two individuals getting married, but for the church.  Like Paul's metaphor on the body being interconnected and intertwined, this vision too sets the bar high.  To love in the way Paul describes and defines it here would take all our energy on our best days...even more when we wake up on the wrong side of the bed.  
But Paul was not the first to come up with this ideal of love, nor was the church or even…

Being the Church Today: Togetherness

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For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.  1 Corinthians 12

Part of the power of Scripture is the use of metaphor.  Jesus often used ordinary, everyday experiences in his parables.  Paul also draws on something we are intimately familiar: our bodies,  I am not sure how often we contemplate our own embodiment...until, of course, we stub our pinkie toe or toothaches or we receive a warm hug from a family member we have not seen in awhile or hold the hand of a friend in a difficult time.  We don't often think about our sense of touch...but we know it to be very powerful.  I feel the warmth of the sun or the chill of the rain on my skin.  I jump in the pool and the water evaporates off, making me aware of my skin.  This morning, after worship, the people who pressed…

Being the Church Today: Communion

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And then I find that you bring your divisions to worship—you come together, and instead of eating the Lord’s Supper, you bring in a lot of food from the outside and make pigs of yourselves. Some are left out, and go home hungry. Others have to be carried out, too drunk to walk. I can’t believe it! Don’t you have your own homes to eat and drink in? Why would you stoop to desecrating God’s church? Why would you actually shame God’s poor? I never would have believed you would stoop to this. And I’m not going to stand by and say nothing.  1 Corinthians 11:20-22 (The Message)

I am continually compelled by communion.  Too often in ministry, the mystery of communion and the practices surrounding the sacrament, has caused frustration and even brokenness.  Let's start with the fact that communion was originally an addition onto the Passover Seder.  Jesus gathered in the upper room to celebrate Passover, which is one of the holiest Jewish rituals and days.  Passover is telling the story (re…

Being the Church Today: Past

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Remember our history, friends, and be warned. All our ancestors were led by the providential Cloud and taken miraculously through the Sea. They went through the waters, in a baptism like ours, as Moses led them from enslaving death to salvation life. They all ate and drank identical food and drink, meals provided daily by God. They drank from the Rock, God’s fountain for them that stayed with them wherever they were. And the Rock was Christ. But just experiencing God’s wonder and grace didn’t seem to mean much—most of them were defeated by temptation during the hard times in the desert, and God was not pleased.  1 Corinthians 10:1-5

Paul has held the Corinthians accountable up to this point on all the ways they have broken covenant with each other.  He has called them on the carpet when it comes to understandings of baptism, communion, relationships, power, and being the church.  But in chapter 10, he says, "Remember OUR history..."  Here is the thing, it was NOT really the …