Browsing articles tagged with " 1 Corinthians"
Mar 3, 2015

The Foolishness of the Cross

“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.”
(1 Corinthians 1:18 – Watchword for the Week of Sunday 8 March 2015)

There are so many spots in my life that are marked with the sign of the cross.
Let me share with y’all what some of them are about:

When she first saw me in the uniform of an Army Chaplain my mother started crying. Yes, of course there was this whole “my son is a Soldier” thing but what disturbed her most was the cross on my chest. The love of God and a combat uniform do not naturally go together. The Army Chaplain Branch Cross is one of five insignia besides the Jewish tabloids, the Muslim crescent, the Buddhist wheel of life and the Hindu ”Om” syllable. They tell Soldiers where their Chaplains are coming from not where they are taking them. Luckily my mom understands that the love of God is greater than all religious distinctions and Christ has called me to be a servant to all.

Whenever our family has moved we have posted a cross over our front-door. You may call it a talisman or good luck charm. I think of it as a blessing of our home and everybody who lives and visits in it. A symbol of Christ’s presence. Maybe not so much through the symbol of the cross itself but very much so by the spirit which we strive to live. The crosses we have used over our doorposts over the years have always been very modest you may even say tiny. That way they have also been great reminders of humility. I wish the cross were used that way more often. Around Houston highways crosses are being abused as symbols of power and dominance towering up to 200 feet tall. The “emblem of suffering and shame” should not be used as a phallic symbol that strives to be bigger and stronger than everybody else.

The roadside crosses that I respect are the ones that remind us of our mortality. After the deadly crash of a loved one family and friends sometimes try to keep the memory alive at the scene of death – with a cross and candles or flowers. By that not only do they support their own grief process but they also help others in a similar situation. Driving past such a memorial site can work like a support group: I am not alone in my mourning. And on a pragmatic note it warns all motorists: A deadly crash happened here. This spot may require more attention and lower speeds. The cross gets that across more powerfully to me than any speed limit sign could.

In the parish hall at St. John’s United Church of Christ we have close to one hundred crosses on the wall. No, this is not bragging by numbers. This is a sign of diversity. Not two are the same. They are kids crafts, cowboy scenes, crucifixes, clothespins, artsy, rustic, kitsch and ancient, you name it, we got it. The blessing here is in the variety of the multitude. There is not the one correct cross. Our journeys are all different, our approaches to Jesus’ suffering and the season of Lent are all different. What is your cross style?

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Oct 2, 2011

One Body

Reports of some getting drunk and others going away hungry at the Lord’s Supper have reached Paul. What a great reading for World Communion Sunday from 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. Check out the reflection from Enter the Bible:

Sep 17, 2011

You are the Scum of the Earh and this World’s Garbage

Most people have Jesus’ saying memorized that Your are Salt of the Earth and Light of the World.
What Paul says is equally true though: We are no more than this world’s garbage; we are the scum of the earth to this very moment!
How does that make you feel?

Sep 16, 2011

Spiritual Growth

One’s spiritual life is often compared to a plant. Paul describes a three-step: “I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plant, but it was God who made the plant grow.”
Who was your Paul?
Who was your Apollos?
Who is the God who makes you grow?
Whose Paul are you?
Whose Apollos are you?
Who is the God who makes you plant and water?

Sep 15, 2011

Homiletics 101

How does the art of preaching work?
Here is a lesson from Paul (1 Corinthians 2:1-16):
– Do not use big words.
– Forget everything except Jesus Christ and especially his death on the cross.
– Do not deliver your teaching and message with skillful words of human wisdom.
– Allow room for convincing proof of the power of God’s Spirit.
– Yet DO proclaim a message of wisdom to those who are spiritually mature.
– Accept that it is only our own spirit within us that knows all about us; in the same way, only God’s Spirit knows all about God.

Sep 14, 2011

Fides quaerens intellectum

Paul knows: “God purposely chose what the world considers nonsense in order to shame the wise, and he chose what the world considers weak in order to shame the powerful.”
Faith cannot be argued for or achieved through a thought process. But faith seeks understanding and rational expression once found, as Anselm of Canterbury put it.

Sep 13, 2011

What makes a Christian?

There is totally no reason for being proud of being a Christian. As a matter of fact the term started out as a swear word that was first applied to this particular Jewish sect in Antioch (Acts 11:26).
Paul struggles with the congregation in Corinth because one says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Peter”; and another, “I follow Christ.”
“Christian” is a very limited term that only refers to the second person of the Holy Trinity, omitting the Father and the Holy Spirit, yet rightfully focusing on the center. What do you think makes a Christian?

Feb 14, 2011

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Today’s Reading is 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.
Since today happens to be Valentine’s Day it is tempting to read “love” as “eros” as in the Song of Songs. Here the Greek word is ἀγάπη (agápē). King James even tried to moralize it but translating it as charity.

Feb 13, 2011

1 Corinthians 12:12-31

Today’s Reading is 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.
Two brief observations: “Christ Has No Hands But Ours”.
And: “In the church God has put all in place.”
Oh, and then there is the Cartman Song Lyrics as well.

Jan 28, 2011

Acts 26:19-27:12

Today’s Reading is Acts 26:19-27:12.
The end is near: That is the end of the book of Acts and Paul’s career.

After Paul basically preaching to the authorities he invokes his rights as a Roman citizen. And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been released if he had not appealed to the Emperor.”

So with this man we have an example of someone bridging cultural gaps: Pharisee and Roman at the same time. Paul is totally embedded in 1st century Judaism. Paul is able to preach at the Areopagus in Athens so that people of Greek upbringing can relate to it.

Paul describes it beautifully in his own words: “Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized — whoever …”