1 Corinthians 1: 1-9
I've been several places in the past week where security seems to be amped up.
I feel like I am holding my breath. Or perhaps it's more appropriate to say that I am holding my breath, clenching my teeth, and then remembering to take a deeper breath, shrug my shoulders, peel my tongue off the roof of my mouth.
It's in keeping with this feeling that I read the Epistle assigned for today, Paul's greeting to the church gathered in Corinth. It's a typical introduction: grace and peace to you, who have been strengthened by God and enriched and strengthened by the testimony of Jesus Christ...
Honestly? It didn't say much to me, so I clicked to the following chapter. Ahhh. I imagine the people listening to this letter heard this opening salutation holding their breath. Because - spoilers - the next paragraph is a doozy.
If Corinth were America, security would be heightened. There would be neighbors bunched together, nervous about those on the other side. Corinth was divided.
If we were in Corinth, the Corinth to whom Paul addresses his letter, we would know this. I imagine there would be some followers of Jesus who would be expecting a smack upside the head. Those new Christians would be holding their breath, waiting for their shepherd, their mentor, to rightly admonish them.
And that's where we are, current day Americans, less than a week before a Presidential Inauguration that even the most ardent supporters of our President-to-be are waiting for with bated breath.
In a 2011 essay on this reading, Daniel Clenendin, a contemporary Christian commentator, tells us this about Christian faith, "Focusing only on our faults distorts the true nature of the church." In the same essay he quotes several writers, ancient and new, who have gone to church, participated in worship, precicely because they needed the space to find faith, not because they had faith and needed to express it.
As a denominational entity, the Episcopal Church came to the conclusion some 40 years ago to celebrate Holy Communion every week. I'm not here to tell you what you should or shouldn't find in the common celebration of "our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving." But I will note it is the one time in my week that I find myself in a group of people with whom I have little else in common.
We are waiting, here, almost holding our breath.
Breathe out. Breathe back in. Slowly. Roll your shoulders back down your back. Breathe in again. Breathe out. Scrape the tongue off the roof of your mouth. Breathe.
The world is a frightening place. We all have worries about what will happen in the next few years; many of us worry about changes already enacted by our House & Senate. We are waiting to be scolded from one side or the other.
But we are HERE. NOW.
The Psalmist writes,
I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my
feet upon a rock, making my feet secure.
Come and see.
2He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.