Sermon Date: January 16th, 2022
By Pastor Elaine Boone
“May the words from my lips and the meditations of our hearts always be pleasing to you O God.”
Paul’s letter to the Corinthians was probably written about the year 54 CE. It is often used as an example of diversity in the early Church. From this letter it is clear that unity might have been a problem! We have this letter because “stuff” was going on in the congregation. Paul wrote to set the congregation in Corinth straight.
It seems that certain members of the congregation felt that they were superior to others. Paul flat out tells them this is NOT the case.
Paul’s points are clear. All are given gifts. There is a great diversity of gifts. All gifts come from God and all gifts are for the common good.
So stop using your pride in your spiritual gifts to try to elevate yourself over a sister or a brother. In the 1st century the conflict and divisions in Corinth were about speaking in tongues, prophecy & miracles.
All gifts are good and all gifts are equally needed to help the community. Faith is personal but not private.
Paul will not tolerate the behaviour of the people of the congregation in Corinth. They need each other - they need to use their gifts for the good of the community - for the good of each other. Without this the community would not be able to survive.
I have been thinking of gifts - gifts of the spirit - the good gifts that come from God and the need to use these for the good of one another.
One important part of being in community is helping to discern gifts and to nurture and support people and their gifts. I believe Paul. I believe that we are all gifted by God & that the Holy Spirit is actively working in our lives and in our community. I also believe that we need to use these gifts for the common good.
Each one of us has gifts. We need to celebrate what we have been given and then figure out how best to use these gifts to improve our world. The theme of a diversity of gifts and the necessity in using them together to improve community is a common theme in literature and movies.
Take a moment and see how quickly examples come to mind.
I have been re-reading Madelaine L’Engle’s series that begins with a Wrinkle in Time. The main character is a teenage girl who feels she is not gifted like other members of her family. But she is wrong - she is gifted and with help in discerning her gifts she can work with others for the common good. Or what about the movie Guardians of the Galaxy? Or perhaps any marvel movie! In the Guardians of the Galaxy a very diverse group pool their gifts or talents to defeat evil. They put aside personal profit and status and worked for the common good.
I am sure that numerous examples come to mind!
But sometimes we feel closer to Meg in a Wrinkle in Time - unsure of ourselves, feeling that others are gifted where we are not. It is in these times that Paul’s words may be very helpful. All are gifted. All gifts are good because all gifts come from God. We just need to believe that this is so. That God’s love - God’s abundance is given to each of us. That we ARE all gifted. Maybe we need help in discerning gifts. Maybe we need help in developing our gifts. This is where being in community is so important. Others see things in us that perhaps we do not see or acknowledge. Maybe we are too accustomed to feeling that we do not have gifts to share.
But that is wrong. Paul told the people of Corinth that everyone - EVERYONE has been gifted by God. That all gifts are good. That all gifts are equal. That all gifts come from God.
And most importantly the gifts we have been given are for the good of all. The common good. If this is so then we are all called to ministry. Each and every Christian.
What has God gifted you with? What abundance has been lavished on you? And how are you using your gifts? How are you using your gifts for the good of community? How are you using your gifts to make the world a better place?
Our gifts are God’s response to the needs of our communities.
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he was promoting unity in the face of divisive behaviour. But he also leaves us with the earliest confession of Christian faith - something very simple. No need for the creeds worked out by theologians in Nicea or the words of the Apostles Creed - creeds that attempt to sum up all we believe & be sure not to leave anything out!!!!
No, Paul leaves us with the confession - Jesus is Lord. If you proclaim this then the Holy Spirit dwells in you.
Jesus is Lord.
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