Archive for the ‘1 Corinthians 8’ Category

The Authority of Jesus, Part III   1 comment

Above:  Capernaum, Israel

Image in the Public Domain


According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)


Deuteronomy 18:15-29

Psalm 1

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Mark 1:21-28


O God, you know that we cannot withstand

the dangers which surround us. 

Strengthen us in body and spirit so that, with your help,

we may be able to overcome the weakness

that our sin has brought upon us;

through Jesus Christ, your Son our Lord.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 16


Almighty God,

you know that we are set among so many and great dangers

that by reason of the weakness of our fallen nature

we cannot always stand upright;

grant us your strength and protection to support us in all dangers

and carry us through all temptations;

through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 25


I, writing as an observant Christian steeped in the ancient traditions of my faith, find a mixed record regarding those traditions.  Much of the oeuvre of tradition is essential.  Some traditions have outlived their usefulness, though.  And other traditions are ridiculous.

The tradition of interpreting certain passages of the Hebrew Bible as prophecies of Jesus falls into the “ridiculous” column.  This Sunday, we have two such texts.  Deuteronomy 18:15-20 no more contains a messianic prophecy than Jesus is the blessed man of Psalm 1.

  1. The authorship of the Book of Deuteronomy is a complicated matter.  If any portion of that book goes back to Moses, I will find that situation surprising.  The Deuteronomistic tradition from which Deuteronomy 18:15-20 springs reflects on the past with the benefit of centuries of hindsight; it does not look forward, except morally.
  2. And the blessed man of Psalm 1 is a Jewish male student of the Torah from the time when a woman could not be a student of the Torah.  The blessed man of Psalm 1 finds his stability in YHWH.  In contrast, those who walk in the council of the wicked are unstable and in motion.  When they do sit down, they do so in the wrong seats.

The cultural setting of Corinth in the Second Reading is foreign to me.  I do not live in a milieu in which food offered to false gods–imaginary deities–is commonplace.  Yet I understand that I, as a human being and a member of society, have an obligation to live according to mutuality.  I have a responsibility to think about how my actions will affect others before I act.  And my freedom as a Christian is not a licence to do whatever I want to do.  On the other hand, avoiding the error of doing little or nothing for rear of creating the wrong impression is crucial.

My father was the pastor of the Vidette United Methodist Church, Vidette, Georgia, from June 1980 to June 1982.  I was a boy.  Dad forbade me to play in the parsonage yard on Sunday afternoons lest someone get the wrong idea.  That was a ridiculous rule.

In the Gospel of Mark, 1:21-28 establishes Jesus as an exorcist/healer and as an authoritative teacher.

  1. When I put on my Rudolf Bultmann hat, I wonder what the “unclean spirit” was.  I admit that it may have been a demon.  I also consider that it may have been a mental illness or a severe emotional disturbance, in today’s diagnostic terms.  The Roman Catholic Church wisely considers other diagnoses before defining any case as a demonic possession.
  2. Anyway, the “unclean spirit” immediately recognized Jesus, who ordered it to be quiet then expelled it.  The Messianic Secret remained intact.
  3. Scribes, steeped in tradition, cited teachers who had preceded them.  Yet Jesus did no such thing; he taught with authority.  And he did not commit the error of doing little or nothing lest he give someone the wrong idea.

I am a Christian for a combination of reasons.  One reason is that my family raised me in the faith.  yet my faith is mine, not theirs.  Ultimately, I am a Christian because of Jesus.  His lived and spoken teachings are my desire as I seek to honor God with my intellect.  A functional frontal lobotomy is antithetical to my faith, which values scripture, tradition, and reason.  In line with Bishop Lesslie Newbigin (1909-1998), I assert that Jesus is the only proper basis of Christian confidence.











Adapted from this post



The Martyrdom of Eleazar the Scribe   1 comment

Above:  Eleazar Forced to Eat Swine’s Flesh, by Gustave Doré

Image in the Public Domain





2 Maccabees 6:18-31

4 Maccabees 5:1-7:23


Before I delve into the material, O reader, I choose to mention a pattern germane to this post and the next few posts:  2 Maccabees is succinct and 4 Maccabees is verbose.  For example, 2 Maccabees 6:18-7:42 spans 4 Maccabees 5:1-18:19.  One theory regarding 4 Maccabees is that it originated as an oration for Hanukkah.  I conclude that, if this is accurate, the original audience had a very long attention span.  I like that idea, especially given that I live in age in which many people have the attention spans of fleas with ADHD.

Eleazar, 90 years old, was a scribe.  He, a pious Jew, obeyed the Law of Moses scrupulously.  Of course, the old man refused to eat pork.  He also refused to spare his life by pretending to eat the forbidden meat.  Eleazar wanted to be a good example, all the way to the end.  So, he suffered tortures and died.

2 Maccabees does not describe the tortures.  4 Maccabees does describe the tortures, though.  And that book, being what it is, portrays Eleazar as being a Stoic philosopher.  The references to self-control and courage (5:23-24) fit neatly into Stoicism.

I have already covered some of the theological points of the reading from 4 Maccabees 5:1-7:23 in the post in which I wrote about 4 Maccabees 1:1-3:18; 13:1-14:10; and 18:20-24.  For purposes of review, however, here are are some reminders:

  1. 6:29 indicates belief in the suffering of the holy functioning as expiation of sins for the people–in this case, the persecuted Jews.
  2. 7:19 teaches the immortality of the dead.  God is the God of the living, many of whom lack pulses.

By the way, just in case somebody forgot that 4 Maccabees teaches Stoicism, there is 7:22:

For only the wise and courageous man is lord of his emotions.

Revised Standard Version–Second Edition (1971)

I prefer to focus on another point, though.  Words and actions matter.  Appearances can deceive, but they still matter.  One may consult 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 for another presentation of this truth.  The context there is eating meat sacrificed to false gods then sold in markets.  The main idea, though, is the same:  Act so as not to lead anyone astray.

Eleazar was faithful to the end.  He died so he would not lead anyone astray.  He should never have been in that situation, though.  Ultimately, Antiochus IV Epiphanes bore the most responsibility for Eleazar’s martyrdom.









Good and Bad Fruit, Part III   1 comment

Above:  The Blind and Mute Man Possessed by Devils, by James Tissot

Image in the Public Domain


Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


Genesis 39:1-21 or Isaiah 43:16-25

Psalm 20

1 Corinthians 8

Matthew 12:22-37


The timeless principle behind St. Paul the Apostle’s advice regarding food sacrificed to false gods in 1 Corinthians 8 is that Christian believers must conduct themselves so as to glorify God and distinguish themselves from unbelievers.  This need not devolve into Puritanical-Pietistic serial contrariness, such as that regarding “worldly amusements,” but does entail drawing people to God, who ended the Babylonian Exile.

Our Lord and Savior’s critics in Matthew 12:22-37 could not deny his miracles, some of which they had witnessed.  They sought to discredit Jesus, though.  They accused him of performing miracles via the power of Satan, prompting Christ to announce the one unpardonable sin:  blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is actually quite simple to grasp.  When one cannot distinguish between good and evil, one has placed oneself outside the grasp of forgiveness.  One has rejected God.  One bears bad fruit.

There can be a fine line between telling the truth and committing the sin of judging others falsely.  One must be aware of one’s sinful nature, and therefore proceed cautiously and humbly.  Nevertheless, one has a duty to issue moral statements at times.  One simply must not pretend to know everything or more than one does, at least.

Ego and social conditioning can warp one’s perspective.  I know this from harrowing historical-theological reading, such as theological defenses of chattel slavery then Jim Crow laws.  (I refer to primary sources.)  The desire to preserve one’s self-image has long led to perfidy, active and passive.

I am not immune from the negative influences of ego and social conditioning, the latter of which is not inherently all bad.  I too must pray for forgiveness for my moral blind spots.  I do so while seeking to recognize the image of God in others, especially those quite different from me.  I do so while acknowledging the obvious:  the Bible orders us hundreds of times to care for strangers.  I do so while seeking to define my ethics according to the standard of the Golden Rule.  In doing so I find that I must call violations of the Golden Rule what they are.  Therefore, people who support those violations of the Golden Rule are on the wrong side of it.  Yet they need not be.

May we bear good fruit for the glory of God.  May we, like Joseph in Genesis 39, do what is correct, especially when that is difficult and has negative consequences–in the case, incarceration.  May we bear good fruit for the glory of God, in all circumstances, by grace.








Adapted from this post:


Grace, Demanding Faithful Responses, Part I   1 comment

Death of Simon Magus

Above:  The Death of Simon Magus

Image in the Public Domain


The Collect:

Lord God, source of every blessing,

you showed forth your glory and led many to faith by the works of your Son,

who brought gladness and salvation to his people.

Transform us by the Spirit of his love,

that we may find our life together in him,

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 22


The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 3:1-5 (Thursday)

Jeremiah 3:19-25 (Friday)

Jeremiah 4:1-4 (Saturday)

Psalm 36:5-10 (All Days)

Acts 8:18-24 (Thursday)

1 Corinthians 7:1-7 (Friday)

Luke 11:14-23 (Saturday)


Like a generous host you give them their fill of good food from your larder.

From your lovely streams which bring such pleasure you give them water to drink.

–Psalm 36:9, The Psalms Introduced and Newly Translated for Today’s Readers (1989), by Harry Mowvley


That is true, of course, so idolatry is especially galling.  Marriage, a literal matter in 1 Corinthians 7, is a metaphor in Jeremiah 3 and 4, where whoring becomes a metaphor for idolatry.  A relationship with God is intimate, this language tells us.

One of the themes in the Gospel of Mark, no part of which we read today, is that those who think they are insiders might actually be outsiders.  That theme applies to our Lord and Savior’s accusers in Luke 11; he was never in league with evil.  The fact that a person who knew Jesus could not recognize that reality speaks badly of that individual.  Jesus was no more in league with evil than Simon Magus could purchase the Holy Spirit, the offer to do which led to a quotable rebuke:

May your silver be lost for ever, and you with it, for you think that money could buy what God has given for nothing!  You have no share, no part, in this:  God can see how your heart is warped.  Repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the LORD that this scheme of yours may be forgiven; it is plain to me that you are held in the bitterness of gall and the chains of sin.

–Acts 8:20b-23, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

From that incident came the word “simony.”

Grace is free yet not cheap.  We can never purchase or earn it, but we can respond favorably to it.  Grace demands concrete evidence of its presence, as measured in deeds, which flow from attitudes.  Do we love our neighbors as we love ourselves?  I prefer that standard to any Pietistic list of legalistic requirements.







Adapted from this post:


2 Samuel and 1 Corinthians, Part II: Proper Concern for Others   1 comment


Above:  The City of David, 1931

Image Source = Library of Congress



Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

2 Samuel 5:1-25

Psalm 97 (Morning)

Psalms 16 and 62 (Evening)

1 Corinthians 8:1-13


Some Related Posts:

2 Samuel 5:

1 Corinthians 8:


For reasons I do not understand every list of kings of Israel and Judah I have seen in study Bibles excludes Ish-bosheth, son of Saul.  He is there in 2 Samuel 2-4, living in David’s shadow.  With that out of the way, I move along to David capturing Jerusalem and making it his capital city.  The narrative of David is clear:  He did well when he obeyed God.

Obeying God means putting away arrogance, which stands in the way of love.   St. Paul, writing in 1 Corinthians 8, dealt with the issue of good offered to false gods.  It is a shame to let good food go to waste, and we know that such alleged deities are not really gods, he wrote, but many other people do not know that.  So, he continued, we who have this knowledge ought not to lead others astray, even accidentally.  Proper concern for others is one principle at work in that line of reasoning.  Another is the fact that people are accountable to each other in society.

At this time I call your attention, O reader to Mark 7:18-21a (The New Jerusalem Bible):

[Jesus] said to [his disciples], “Even you, don’t you understand?  Can’t you see that nothing that goes into someone from outside can make that person unclean, because it goes not into the heart but into the stomach and passes into the sewer?” (Thus he pronounced all foods clean.)  And he went on, “It is what comes out of someone that makes that person unclean.  For it is from within , from the heart, that evil intentions emerge…..”

Those evil intentions, the list of which I did not replicate here, are what makes one unclean, according to verse 23.

If St. Paul knew of that saying and of Jesus pronouncing all food clean, he did not indicate that he did.  Indeed, he died before the composition of the Gospel of Mark, but the oral tradition (at least that much) existed during St. Paul’s lifetime.

St. Paul made his statement about food offered to false gods in a particular cultural context.  The application of principles varies according to contexts; reality cannot be any other way.  The principle of not leading others astray, even by accident, is a timeless one. What applying it entails varies from setting to setting.  My only caution is this:  One must not take it to ridiculous extremes.  People being people, some take offense very easily and quickly.  One must  not permit them to limit one’s actions, or else one will do nothing or too little.  And that will be bad.  No, we are called to act affirmatively for the good of others; that is what God wants us to do.  We will do well to obey that command, however it translates into actions in our specific contexts.







Adapted from this post:


Role Models   1 comment

Above:  The Communion of Saints


Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


1 Corinthians 8:1-13; 9:16-27; 10:14-32 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Now about food sacrificed to idols:

We all have knowledge;

yes, that is so, but knowledge gives self-importance–it is love that makes the building grow.  A man may imagine he understands something, but still not understand anything in the way he ought to.  But any man who loves God is known by him.  Well then, about eating food sacrificed to idols:  we know that idols do not really exist in the world and that there is no god but the One.  And even if there were things called gods, either in the sky or on earth–where there certainly seem to be ‘gods’ and ‘lords’ in plenty–still for us there is one God, the Father, from whom all things come and for whom we exist; and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things come and through whom we exist.

Some people, however, do not have this knowledge.  There are some who have been so long used to idols that they eat this food as though it really had been sacrificed to the idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled by it.  Food, of course, cannot bring us in touch with God:  we lose nothing if we refuse to eat, we gain nothing if we eat.  Only be careful that you do not make use of this freedom in a way that proves a pitfall for the weak.  Suppose someone sees you, a man who understands, eating in some temple to an idol; his own conscience, even if it is week, may encourage him to eat food which has been offered to idols.  In this way your knowledge could become the ruin of someone weak, of a brother for whom Christ died.  By sinning in this way against your brothers, and injuring their weak consciences, it would be Christ against whom you sinned.  That is why, since food can be the occasion of my brother’s downfall, I shall never eat meat again in case I am the cause of a brother’s downfall.

Not that I boast of preaching the gospel, since it is a duty which has been laid on me; I should be punished if I did not preach it!  If I had chosen this work myself, I might have been paid for it, but as I have not, it is a responsibility which has been put into my hands.  Do you know what my reward is?  It is this:  in my preaching, to be able to offer the Good News free, and not insist on the rights which the gospel gives me.

So though I am not a slave of any man I have made myself the slave of everyone so as to win as many as I could.  I made myself a Jew to the Jews, to win the Jews; that is, I who am not a subject of the Law made myself subject to the Law.  To those who have no Law, I was free of the Law myself (though not free from God’s Law, being under the Law of Christ) to win those who have no Law.  For the weak I made myself weak.  I made myself all things to all men in order to save some at any cost; and I still do this, for the sake of the gospel, to have a share in its blessings.

All the runners at the stadium are trying to win, but only one of them gets the prize.  You must run in the same way, meaning to win.  All the fighters at the games go into strict training; they do this just to win a wreath which will wither away, but we do it for a wreath that will never wither.  That is how I run, intent on winning; that is how I fight, not beating the air.  I treat my body hard and make it obey me, for, having been an announcer myself, I should not want to be disqualified.

This is the reason, my dear brothers, why you must keep clear of idolatry.  I say to you as sensible people:  judge for yourselves what I am saying.  The blessing-cup that we bless is a communion with the blood of Christ, and the bread that we break is a communion with the blood of Christ.  The fact that there is only one loaf means that we all have a share in this one loaf.  Look at the other Israel, the race, where those who eat the sacrifices are in communion with the altar.  Does this mean that the food sacrificed to idols has a real value, or that the idol itself is real?  Not at all.  It simply means that the sacrifices they offer they sacrifice to demons who are not God.  I have no desire to see you in communion with demons.  You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons.  You cannot take your share at the table of the Lord and at the table of demons.  Do we want to make the Lord angry; are we stronger than he is?

For me there are no forbidden things,

but not everything does good.  True, there are no forbidden things, but it is not everything that helps the building to grow.  Nobody should be looking for his own advantage, but everybody for the other man’s.  Do not hesitate to eat anything that is sold in butchers’ shops:  there is no need to raise questions of conscience; for the earth and everything that is in it belong to the Lord.  If an unbeliever invites you to his house, go if you want to, and eat whatever is put in front of you, without asking questions just to satisfy conscience.  But if someone says to you,

This food was offered in sacrifice,

then, out of consideration for the man that told you, you should not eat it, for the sake of his scruples; his scruples, you see, not your own.  Why should my freedom depend on somebody else’s conscience?  If I take my share with thankfulness, why should I be blamed for food for which I have thanked God?

Whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever you do at all, do it all for the glory of God.  Never do anything offensive to anyone–to Jews or Greeks or to the Church of God….

Psalm 139:1-19, 22, 23 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 LORD, you have searched me out and known me;

you know my sitting down and my rising up;

you discern my thoughts from afar.

You trace my journeys and my resting-places

and are acquainted with all my ways.

Indeed, there is not a word on my lips,

but you, O LORD, know it altogether.

You press upon me behind and before

and lay your hand upon me.

5 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

it is so high that I cannot attain to it.

6 Where can I go then from your Spirit?

where can I flee from your presence?

If I climb up to heaven, you are there;

if I make the grave my bed, you are there also.

If I take the wings of the morning

and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

9 Even there your hand will lead me

and your right hand hold me fast.

22 Search me out, O God, and know my heart;

try me and know my restless thoughts.

23 Look well whether there be any wickedness in me

and lead me in the way that is everlasting.

Psalm 84 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

How dear to me is your dwelling, O LORD of hosts!

My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the LORD;

my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God.

The sparrow has found her a house

and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young;

by the side of your altars, O LORD of hosts,

my King and my God.

3 Happy are they who dwell in your house!

they will always be praising you.

4 Happy are the people whose strength is in you!

whose hearts are set on the pilgrims’ way.

5 Those who go through the desolate valley will find it a place of springs,

for the early rains have covered it with pools of water.

6 They will climb from height to height,

and the God of gods will reveal himself in Zion.

LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;

hearken, O God of Jacob.

8 Behold our defender, O God;

and look upon the face of your Anointed.

For one day in your courts is better than a thousand in my own room,

and to stand in the threshold of the house of my God

than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.

10 For the LORD is both sun and shield;

he will give grace and glory;

11 No good thing will the LORD withhold

from those who walk with integrity.

12 O LORD of hosts,

happy are they who put their trust in you!

Psalm 116:10-17 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

10 How shall I repay the LORD

for all the good things he has done for me?

11 I will lift up the cup of salvation

and call upon the Name of the LORD.

12 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD

in the presence of all his people.

13 Precious in the sight of the LORD

is the death of his servants.

14 O LORD, I am your servant;

I am your servant and the child of your handmaid;

you have freed me from my bonds.

15 I will offer you the sacrifice of thanksgiving

and call upon the Name of the LORD.

16 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD

in the presence of all his people.

17 In the courts of the LORD’s house,

in the midst of you, O Jerusalem.


Luke 6:27-49 (The Jerusalem Bible):

[Jesus continued,]

But I say this to you who are listening:  Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly.  To the man who slaps you on one cheek, present the other cheek too; to the man who takes your cloak from you, do not refuse your tunic.  Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your property back from the man who robs you.  Treat others as you would like them to treat you.  If you love those who love you, what thanks can you expect?  Even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what thanks can you expect?  For even sinners do that much.  And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what thanks can you expect?  Even sinners lend to sinners to get back the same amount.  Instead, love your enemies and do good, and lend without any hope of return.  You will have a great reward, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate.  Do not judge, and you will not be judged yourselves; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned yourselves; grant pardon, and you will be pardoned.  Give, and there will be gifts for you:  a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.

He [Jesus] also told a parable to them,

Can one blind man guide another?  Surely both will fall into a pit?  The disciple is not superior to this teacher; the fully trained disciple will always be like his teacher.  Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the plank in your own?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the splinter that is in your eye,’ when you cannot see the plank in your own?  Hypocrite!  Take the plank out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take out the splinter that is in your brother’s eye.

There is no sound tree that produces rotten fruit, nor again a rotten tree that produces sound fruit.  For every tree can be told by its own fruit; people do not pick figs from thorns, nor gather grapes from brambles.  A good man draws what is good from the store of goodness in his heart; a bad man draws what is bad from the store of badness.  For a man’s words from what fills his heart.

Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,” and not do what I say?

Everyone who comes to me and listens to my words and acts on them–I will show you what he is like.  He is like the man who when he built his house dug, and dug deep, and laid the foundations on rock; when the river was in flood it bore down on that house  but could not shake it, it was so well built.  But the one who listens and does nothing is like the man who built his house on soil, with no foundations:  as soon as the river bore down on it, it collapsed; and what a ruin that house became!


The Collect:

Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Once, when I was a youth, there was a famous basketball player who recorded a television spot in which he proclaimed that he was not a role model.  I understand his main point, for the fact that one is a talented and recognized athlete ought not to cause others (often young people) to look up to and emulate one.  There is a difference between heroism and athletic prowess.  Parents and/or guardians ought to instill good values in children, and there are plenty of excellent people (living and dead) who are excellent role models.  As a Christian, I look to Jesus of Nazareth.  As an amateur hagiographer, I point to the saints when I seek good examples from mere mortals.

Life in community requires us to accommodate each other.  So, if something otherwise harmless we do harms another person spiritually, we need (within reason, of course) to refrain from such behaviors.  I say “within reason” because anything any of us does might offend or confuse someone else spiritually.  So the principle, applied without reason, leads to us doing nothing.

Each of us is a role model, even if we do not want to be one.  So may we be the best role models we can be.  May we love our enemies, denying them any excuse for hating us.  May we live compassionately, performing as many good deeds as possible and forgiving others.  And may we avoid hypocrisy–all by the grace of God, of course.

God is watching, of course, and that fact matters very much.  And our fellow mere mortals are also watching.  What kind of messages are we sending to them via our deeds, words, and attitudes?





Adapted from this post:


Bad Corinthians!   3 comments

Above:  A Table Set for the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist

Image Source = Jonathunder



1 Corinthians 11:17-28, 33 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Now that I am on the subject of instructions, I cannot say that you have done well in holding meetings that you do more harm than good.  In the first place, I hear that when you all come together as a community, there are separate factions among you, and I half believe it–since there must no doubt be separate groups among you, to distinguish those who are to be trusted.  The point is, when you hold these meetings, it is not the Lord’s Supper that you are eating, since when the time comes to eat, everyone is in such a hurry to start his own supper that one person goes hungry while another is getting drunk.  Surely you have homes for eating and drinking in?  Surely you have enough respect for the community of God not to make poor people embarrassed?  What am I to say to you?  Congratulate you?  I cannot congratulate you on this.

For this is what I received from the Lord, and in turn passed on to you:  that on the same night that he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it, and he said,

This is my body, which is for you; do this as a memorial of me.

In the same way he took the cup after supper, and said,

This cup is the new covenant in my blood.  Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.

Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death, and so anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be behaving unworthily towards the body and blood of the Lord.

Everyone is to recollect himself eating this bread and drinking this cup….

So, to sum up, my dear brothers, when you meet for the Meal, wait for one another….

1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27-31 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit because of all these parts, though many, make one body, so it is with Christ.  In the one Spirit we were all baptised, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and the one Spirit was given to us all to drink.

Nor is the body to be identified with any one of its member parts.

Now you together are Christ’s body; but each of you is a different part of it.  In the Church, God has given the first place to apostles, the second to prophets, the third to teachers; after them, miracles, and after them the gift of healing; helpers, good leaders, those with many languages.  Are all of them apostles, or all of them prophets, or all of them teachers?  Do they all have the gift of miracles, or all have the gift of healing?  Do all speak strange languages, and all interpret them?

Be ambitious for the higher gifts.  And I am going to show you a way that is better than any of them.

Psalm 40:8-12 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

8  Burnt-offering and sin-offering you have not required,

and so I said, “Behold, I come.

9  In the roll of the book it is written concerning me:

‘I love to do your will, O my God;

your law is deep in my heart.’”

10  I proclaimed righteousness in the great congregation;

behold, I did not restrain my lips;

and that, O LORD, you know.

11  Your righteousness have I not hidden in my heart;

I have spoken of your faithfulness and your deliverance;

I have not concealed your love and faithfulness from the great congregation.

12  You are the LORD;

do not withhold your compassion from me;

let your loving and your faithfulness keep me safe for ever.

Psalm 100 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Be joyful in the LORD, all you lands;

serve the LORD with gladness

and come before his presence with a song.

Know this:  The LORD himself is God;

he himself has made us, and we are his;

we are the sheep of his pasture.

3 Enter his gates with thanksgiving;

go into his courts with praise;

give thanks to him and call upon his name.

4 For the LORD is good;

his mercy is everlasting;

and his faithfulness endures from age to age.

Luke 7:1-17 (The Jerusalem Bible):

When he [Jesus] had come to the end of all he wanted the people to hear, he went into Capernaum.  A centurion there had a servant, a favourite of his, who was sick and near death.  Having heard  about Jesus he sent some Jewish elders to ask him to come and heal his servant.  When they came to Jesus they pleaded earnestly with him.

He deserves this of you,

they said,

because he is friendly towards our people; in fact, he is the one who built the synagogue.

So Jesus went with them, and was not very far from the house when the centurion sent word to him by some friends:


he said,

do not put yourself to trouble; because I am not worthy to have you under my roof; and for this same reason I did not presume to come to you myself; but give the word and let my servant be cured.  For I am under authority myself, and have soldiers under me; and I say to one man:  Go, and he goes; to another:  Come here, and he comes; to my servant:  Do this, and he does it.

When Jesus heard these words he was astonished at him and, turning around, said to the crowds following him,

I tell you, not even in Israel have I found faith like this.

And when the messengers got to the house they found the servant in perfect health.

Now soon afterwards he [Jesus] went to a town called Nain, accompanied by his disciples and a great number of people.  When he was near the gate of the town it happened that a dead man was being carried out for burial, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.  And a considerable number of the townspeople were with her.  When the Lord saw her he felt sorry for her.

Do not cry

he said.  Then he went up and put his hand on the bier and the bearers stood still, and he said,

Young man, I tell you to get up.

And the dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him to his mother.  Everyone was filled with awe and praised God saying,

A great prophet has appeared among us; God has visited his people.

And this opinion of him spread throughout Judaea and all over his countryside.


The Collect:

O God, because without you we are not able to please you mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Only Begotten, Word of God Eternal:

Bread of Heaven, On Thee We Feed:

Thanksgiving after Communion, 1917:

At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing:

Glory, Love, and Praise, and Honor:

Humbly I Adore Thee, Verity Unseen:

Deck Thyself, With Joy and Gladness:

In Remembrance of Me:

I Come with Joy to Meet My Lord:

Here, O My Lord, I See Thee Face to Face:

Become to Us the Living Bread:

Very Bread, Good Shepherd, Tend Us:

Body of Jesus, O Sweet Food!:

Shepherd of Souls:

Let Thy Blood in Mercy Poured:

The King of Love My Shepherd Is:

I Am the Bread of Life:

A Prayer of Thanksgiving for the Holy Eucharist:

Prayer of Humble Access:

Break Thou the Bread of Life:

After Receiving Communion:

Before Receiving Communion:

Novena Prayer in Honor of the Blessed Sacrament:

O Bread of Life:

A Eucharistic Blessing:


The Corinthian church seems to have been a troubled congregation full of people who behaved quite badly.  Anyone who has read 1 Corinthians consecutively should know much of the contents of the catalog of sins, including backbiting, committing idolatry, failing to control one’s sexual impulses, and engaging in predatory sexual practices (sometimes with minors).  Why would anyone not already Christian become one of the faithful, based on these bad examples and role models?  As Ron Popeil says,

But wait, there’s more.

Instead of a rotisserie chicken machine or a nifty knife set, however, we get drunkenness at the Holy Eucharist and excessive pride in one’s own spiritual gifts combined with a dismissive attitude toward the spiritual gifts of others.

Our unity is in Christ, from whom we derive the label “Christian.”  Mutual support was supposed to mark the Corinthian church, but the opposite did.  Mutual support is supposed to mark us in the Christian Church today.  Sometimes it does.  I belong to a congregation where I feel accepted, but I have firsthand knowledge of some where I have not.

Now, to change the subject….

My usual purpose in these posts is to maintain a devotional tone and ponder practical lessons from readings.  Yet now I turn into a teacher.  There is a well-supported hypothesis which holds that the authors of the three Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Luke, and Matthew) drew from various sources, including Q, a collection of Jesus sayings.  Paul’s writing on the Holy Eucharist, in which he quotes Jesus, confirms that there was some source of Jesus sayings, for Paul could not have quoted any of the four canonical Gospels.  He died in 64, prior to the composition of Mark, the earliest of that genre in the canon of scripture.

Speaking of the Holy Eucharist…

Indeed, the altar is the table of God, and nobody ought to abuse its sacred elements or take it lightly.  Paul, writing regarding food sacrificed to imaginary deities, claimed that

Food, of course, cannot bring us in touch with God:  we lose nothing if we refuse to eat, we gain nothing if we eat.–1 Corinthians 8:8, The Jerusalem Bible

Here I must argue with Paul.  I have come in close contact with God at Holy Eucharist since I was a child.  My only complaint when I was growing up in rural United Methodist congregations in the South Georgia Conference was that I had these opportunities too infrequently.  Now, as an Episcopalian, that is no longer a problem.  Eucharist is, as The Book of Common Prayer (1979) tells us,

the central act of Christian worship.

So one should partake of it as frequently as possible, always with reverence.

God calls a wide variety of people with diverse spiritual gifts to form and maintain Christian communities in which people love and support each other.  We all have our foibles and other failings, so patience is a great virtue.  But together we can support each other in righteousness and be visible faces of Christ to each other.  That is our calling; may we embrace it and continue to do so.





Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on October 21, 2011

Adapted from this post: