This Sunday, we begin a series titled Somos del Señor following the Revised Common Lectionary and sourced from Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church. Guided by Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth (indeed, a divided church), we will take these next few weeks to celebrate both our diversity and our oneness in Christ Jesus.
This week’s text is the introduction to Paul’s letter, following the classic style of the period. Paul’s writing seems to bely a sense of enthusiasm, perhaps intending to remind his audience—including us—of all we share in the body of Christ. Later, Paul will offer guidance and even correction, but first he brings the reminder of the abundance of the body. This is where we must begin to build our unity.
1 Corinthians 1:1-9 (CEB)
1From Paul, called by God’s will to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, and from Sosthenes our brother.
2To God’s church that is in Corinth:
To those who have been made holy to God in Christ Jesus, who are called to be God’s people.
Together with all those who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place—he’s their Lord and ours!
3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thanksgiving for the Corinthians
4I thank my God always for you, because of God’s grace that was given to you in Christ Jesus. 5That is, you were made rich through him in everything: in all your communication and every kind of knowledge, 6in the same way that the testimony about Christ was confirmed with you. 7The result is that you aren’t missing any spiritual gift while you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8He will also confirm your testimony about Christ until the end so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is faithful, and you were called by him to partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Consider these questions:
- How does Paul identify himself to the hearers of this letter in Corinth?
- How do you identify yourself in public circles?
- Why do you think Paul begins the formal portion of this letter with gratitude (v4 “I give thanks to my God always for you…”)? What is Paul thankful for?
- For what are you grateful? How do you express gratitude?
Post-Worship Update on 1/21
Audio from the sermon can be heard below. Due to a technical issue, video is not available for this message.
Taking a moment to explore the subtleties of Paul’s introduction to his first letter to the church in Corinth has been helpful. Paul includes much language about “call,” and may take this as a reminder that we are all called to some form of ministry. As members together in the body of Christ, we are called to participate in the life and ministry of the church!
But sometimes we get stuck in differences of theology or practicality. Sometimes we get stuck in meetings. Sometimes we get stuck in personality conflicts. Sometimes we lose ourselves in minutia. I find comfort in the reminder that God calls even in the midst of all of this (and more). But not only does God call, God equips!
Paul reminds us that God uniquely equips us for the work we are called to do. If we respond to God’s call to participate as members of the body of Christ, we aren’t missing any spiritual gift! We have everything that we need!
In a time when our culture and especially our denomination feel fractured and on the verge of collapse, we urgently need this reminder. Before we belong to a church or a denomination, before we belong to a political party, before anything else, we belong to God. We are already sanctified. We are already made holy. We are already given what we need to follow God’s call.
Consider these questions:
- Read the passage above again. This time, substitute the word “you” with “y’all” where appropriate. Feel the difference as you say it. How does this change the reading? Consider especially verse 7. How does this affect your understanding of this part of the letter?
- What does it mean to you to belong to the body of Christ? What does it mean to you to belong to this congregation (in participation even if not in membership)?
- How can this group (if you are exploring these questions as part of a group) or this congregation help you to experience the grace and empowerment of God?