Thursday, January 23, 2014

Epiphany 3 A - 1 Corinthians 1:10-18

1 Corinthians 1:10-18
This is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in case you didn't know. It wasn't on my radar either but then I read what I wrote on this text three years ago and there it was in black and white. I suppose with all the other things that occupy the beginning of a new year we might be forgiven for not remembering that the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity always begins with the Feast of the Confession of St. Peter and concludes with the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul (January 18-25). Unless of course you live in the Southern Hemisphere in which case it’s celebrated at Pentecost. (Probably a concession for the sake of unity) Truth is Christians live pretty well with each other as neighbors (as long as they mow their lawn and keep their dogs quiet) or when they meet on the street (unless they are driving in traffic) or at Starbucks (unless they take forever to order a latte) or at sporting events (as long as they support the same team) but come Sunday believers circle the wagons and hunker down behind doctrinal divisions or styles of worship or any number of rules, real or imagined, that make the letter to the Corinthians as relevant today as it was when it was penned. We learn the language of love as a foreign tongue. (1 Corinthians 13:1) The sad truth is the church was never one and even those who knew Jesus face to face failed to live fully into the dream that God had for humanity. So why does anyone bother setting aside one week (observed at two different times) to pray for something that has never been realized? Well, maybe the prayer is not that we would be unified but that we would recognize we already are. I happen to follow Luther (but not exclusively, I hope) whose explanation to "Thy will be done" might be helpful. “The good and gracious will of God is done indeed without our prayer; but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.” Jesus prayed that we might be one even as He was one with the One he knew as Father. (John 17:21) So maybe the prayer of Christian unity is that we would live what we already are. Crazy, huh?

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