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January 19

Pastor's Minute

One in the Spirit, One in the Lord

Each January, the church observes the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which celebrates our unity in Christ Jesus and seeks to lift up the things that Christians hold in common. I struggled to find the words to express my feelings on this matter and came up less than satisfied. Then I ran across an article in a pastors’ journal to which I subscribe that gets it just right. I’ve included excerpts from “Christ’s Body in the World” by Carla Swafford Works in the January/February issue of Homiletics magazine.

At first reading, 1 Corinthians may seem utterly irrelevant to a 21 st –century church

seeking its identity in a post-modern, post-Christian world. ... Like the ancient

Corinthians, we relish our enlightenment and bask in our knowledge … Some of the key

issues threatening the ancient Corinthians … are, however, symptoms of a greater

bodily malfunction—their failure to be the body of Christ.

The most noticeable symptom of the Corinthians’ struggle to live their newfound faith is

the presence of divisions within the church (1:10-17). Far from differences over the color

of the carpets, these divisions developed around prominent, well-meaning leaders in the

early church movement (1:12-13). … Before too hastily chastising the early church for

rallying around its prominent leaders, we need to beware of our own position in churches

that might just as easily fall under the catchphrases: “I am of Peter,” “I am of Luther,” “I

am of Wesley,” or the more general, “I am of Christ.” We have more in common with

ancient Corinthians than we realize.

Paul reminded the Corinthians that they all belonged to Christ (3:23). Upon baptism,

they were all baptized into one body—Jew or Greek, slave or free. … This new identity

does not involve a loss of diversity, however. It recognizes that all members are needed

to complete the body. … only by recognizing the full extent of the demands of this new

identity will they be “united in the same mind and the same purpose” (1:10).

Their failure to be united is a sign that they are still clinging to the wisdom of this age, a

wisdom that is foolishness to God (1:18-2:5). … Paul reiterates that human knowledge is

finite and partial. Besides, the gospel is not just knowledge; it involves mystery. It

involves “spiritual things” that our human minds alone cannot grasp. We need the “mind

of Christ”.

The real surprise is that even amidst these obvious signs that the Corinthian church is

still relying on worldly wisdom and even among the many divisions, Paul tells the

believers that they are already the body of Christ … The challenge is to live and to be

what they really are.

This call to unity is not limited to the Corinthian church. It is elemental to the gospel itself. We’re called to place our identity in Christ foremost -- not first Catholic or Protestant, Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative. We belong to Christ. And, like the ancient Corinthians, we’re called to be Christ’s body in our world.


Pr Mark

Thank you, Good Shepherd Family, for the end-of-year cash gifts you made to the staff at Christmas. We truly appreciate the gesture and your generosity. It's a blessing to each of us to be serving the church alongside you and to work in God's wonderful ministry with you. Thank you for the gift, and for your love and support throughout the year.

With sincere thanks,

Pastor Mark, Bonnie MacHenry, Kim Hughes, Paddy Sutherlin, Bertha McCarty, and Deidre Howard


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