Sunday, 16 August 2015

Can't make it to church? 16 August 2015

Today we start off with a bit of Wisdom (sophia) and find ourselves moving on to thinking about the gifts of the Spirit (which require a great deal of wisdom if they are yo be used to build the Church rather than puff people up because they think they have them and from that we have more of the 'bread discourse' from John. Because we are 'doing' 1 Corinthians rather than the lectionary Ephesians I have added that at the end of this blog (in case you'd like to keep in step with others aside from us).

I'm going to wimp out a bit with the Wisdom reading insofar as the seven pillars are concerned because I have heard so much tosh regarding them and what they are. The key for some it seems is to merely list the things you want to portray as being right or necessary and keep going until you have seven. What is obvious is that what we have within this passage are seven element - and I think these are the pillars spoken of )and I don't come to this lightly, there are a number of books and some hours spent with this and numerology (after all, seven is the number of man and all that stuff!).

So let's take a look (I've numbered the 'pillars' in the passage below) and see that it forms a preparation, and invite, for us to sit and eat - to engage in a covenant and relationship with wisdom. Wisdom is a 'she' (sophia0 but I don't think those who claim 'she' is the Holy Spirit or another part of the Godhead and stuff like that hold much water. I have friends of the feminist persuasion who have almost started a new pseudoChristian faith out of the sophist stuff, but then again I have others who worship eleven men and a football so there's always the oddities around about us aren't there? The problem is that whilst I understand that some want to make one of the three members of the Godhead female, I'd rather have God as male and female and whilst sophia fits the bill for some I think it brings with it more problems than might be solved (don't see a problem so why do I need a solution?).

The passage shows preparation, invitation and proclamation of it (to the wise and the foolish) to bring those who would embrace wisdom to form a relationship. there are element of the banquet where the host bins the invited and brings in all who might come. Wisdom comes fro, and through, the reading and hearing and living of God's word (and meeting the living Word) - and when this is our reality we find ourselves (as Wesley had it) 'Stangely warmed' and enabled and gifted by the Holy Spirit.

Which leads s rather nicely into the Corinthians passage and spiritual gifts, which are given for the 'common good' and the 'building up of the body'. The problem is that some out there speak in tongues and see that as a proof and sign of something. Some claim it to be maturity whilst other claim it to be a badge of rank or office - but (sorry about this) IT ISN'T!

Let me give you a little analogy that has served me well for many years:

In the Church a need arises for a hole and so the means of digging one is gifted to the body by God and someone get the gift of shovels. Now they might remain and exhibit this gift for always or the gift, like the need for holes, might be something temporary and passing. The thing is that we need to realise from whence comes the gift and why it turns up: It is for the building of the body and the glory of God, not the recipient. (Just saying).

So what does your church need? Whatever it is (yes even administration) why not ask God to enable you with the necessary gifts and abilities and see how much you can bless the Church and build the kingdom?

And again, with hat call to servanthood we recall in our Gospel the servanthood and sacrificial nature of Jesus, the Christ, and the Eucharist: That 'living bread' which brings, and confirms our reconciled communion, with God.

So here is is: an invitation, a call to service and a confirmation of our reconciliation- all in three passages. Can't be bad that, can it?

The Collect
God of glory, the end of our searching,
help us to lay aside all that prevents us from seeking your kingdom,
and to give all that we have to gain the pearl beyond all price,
through our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Proverbs 9.1-6
Wisdom has built her house. She has set up its seven pillars.
1. She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine.    
2. She has also set her table.
3. She has sent out her servants.
4. She calls out from the highest point of the city.
5. She says, “Let all who are childish come to my house!”
6. She speaks to those who have no sense. 
7. She says,“Come and eat my food. Drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your childish ways and you will live. Walk in the way of understanding.”

1 Corinthians 12.1, 4-14
Brothers and sisters, I want you to know about the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of gifts. But they are all given to believers by the same Spirit.

There are different ways to serve. But they all come from the same Lord. 
There are different ways the Spirit works. 
But the same God is working in all these ways and in all people.
The Holy Spirit is given to each of us in a special way. 
That is for the good of all. 
To some people the Spirit gives a message of wisdom. 
To others the same Spirit gives a message of knowledge. 
To others the same Spirit gives faith. 
To others that one Spirit gives gifts of healing. 
To others he gives the power to do miracles. 
To others he gives the ability to prophesy. 
To others he gives the ability to tell the spirits apart. 
To others he gives the ability to speak in different kinds of languages they had not known before. 
And to still others he gives the ability to explain what was said in those languages. 

All the gifts are produced by one and the same Spirit. He gives gifts to each person, just as he decides.

There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. We were all baptised by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts.

John 6.51-58
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Everyone who eats some of this bread will live forever.  This bread is my body. I will give it for the life of the world.”
Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves. They said, “How can this man give us his body to eat?”
Jesus said to them, “What I’m about to tell you is true. You must eat the Son of Man’s body and drink his blood. If you don’t, you have no life in you. Anyone who eats my body and drinks my blood has eternal life. I will raise them up on the last day. My body is real food. My blood is real drink. Anyone who eats my body and drinks my blood remains in me. And I remain in them. The living Father sent me, and I live because of him. In the same way, those who feed on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Long ago your people ate manna and died. But whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

Post Communion Prayer
Lord of all mercy,
We your faithful people have celebrated that one true sacrifice
Which takes away our sins and brings pardon and peace:
By our communion keep us firm on the foundation of the Gospel
And preserve us from all sin; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Ephesians 5.15-20
Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil.

So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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