Monday, January 17, 2011

Can We Get Along?

The epistle reading for the Third Sunday after Epiphany is 1 Corinthians 1. 10-18. Here is the reading and some thoughts I shared with my Lectionary study group.

10. Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.
11. For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters.
12. What I mean is that each of you says, "I belong to Paul," or "I belong to Apollos," or "I belong to Cephas," or "I belong to Christ."
13. Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
14. I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,
15. so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name.
16. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)
17. For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power.
18, For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
(New Revised English Version)

Now that the decorations are safely put away and the monotony of winter settles in, the mystery and wonder of the Incarnation begins to fade from our imagination. The assurance of blessed communion with others who confess Christ remains a hope at best. The reality of the ordinary life seems to overpower the reality of the grace filled life. Committee meetings, budget reviews, phone conversations with the insurance company, working on the furnace, are viewed as signs of heaven when compared to the bickering, jealousy,and mean spirited battles that is common among the baptised. And yet...

“I believe in the Church”.

The earliest baptismal formulas affirm the centrality of Church in the faith.

The divisions that grieve the Spirit is ever present. Can we heed the plea of the Apostle in the first century and stop passing judgment and make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification?

“I believe in the Church”.

The fundamentalists. The progressives. The loving but culturally, intellectually, spiritually, or theologically limited parishioner who is wrong about human sexuality, war and peace, the authority of the bible, gun control legislation, the church's contribution to the denomination's latest church wide appeal, and whether we should ask Mrs. Thompson to consider hiring an assistant editor for the church's newsletter.

“I believe in the Church”.

"Therefore I will put up with this Church until I see a better one," wrote Erasmus; "and it will have to put up with me, until I become better."


  1. Cecil,

    I enjoyed your thoughts about the church and its unique ability to frustrate us despite giving us life.

    BTW, I am discerning a future with the Order of Corpus Christi and found your blog via the email chain of late.


  2. I like that quote--I often sigh when I think of the church's faults; now I will think of the church sighing as it thinks of mine! :)

    Welcome to The High Calling. I hope we'll be seeing a lot of you around the network.