Prepare to Listen. As you light the 1st purple candle, pray: Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down (Ps 144:5).
Prayerfully Read 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, 5for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind--6just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you--7so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
I recently read an article about the struggle pastors have as their congregants react to covid-19 recommendations or to sermons on race. Threats to leave, quit tithing, fire the pastor and even physical violence are just some reactions. It was a sad commentary on today’s church. And then I read Paul’s words written to a church that was probably the most troubled of all the churches with which Paul was connected. It had incest, corruption, immorality, quarreling, division, harsh criticism of Paul and probably a whole lot more.
Yet, Paul began his letter to this troubled and difficult church with affirming words: “I give thanks to my God always for you.” And it gets better from there. Despite all their problems, Paul still believed that, in every way, they’d been enriched in Christ, “in speech and knowledge of every kind.” They weren’t “lacking in any spiritual gift.” How could he possibly say this about such a troubled church? He could because he trusted, not in the church’s faithfulness, but in God’s faithfulness. He wrote, “God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Yes, maybe many churches are in a mess today and some pastors battle with suicidal thoughts as a result, but God, who called us into fellowship with Christ and each other, is faithful. Therefore, we can give thanks, even as we grieve congregants’ spiritual immaturity.
What struck you about Paul’s affirmation of a difficult church? Imagine writing a letter to a church you know that begins with what you’re thanking God for about them. What would be on your list?
Respond to Jesus
Lord Jesus, you called us, your Church, into fellowship with you. Forgive us when we arrogantly go our own way instead of humbly submitting to your work in our lives. Help us live in your faithfulness today. Amen.
Go live obediently in the world, giving thanks for Christ’s church.
I am convinced that reading the Christian Bible is essential for our Christian spiritual nourishment. I speak from experience, over 60 years of experience. I also believe we'll never get bored reading the Bible over and over. Each time I read it, I learn something new. Read with me during Advent and learn to wait for Christ with heart and mind alert for his coming. The readings draw on my background of study and teaching the Bible for over 30 years.