Jeremiah 8:18-9:1, Luke 16:1-13, Excerpts from 1 Corinthians
Jesus has just told us a story of how very complicated life can get. It is about ingenuity born of desparation, the actions of one who's never wanted to be part of the herd and now finds himself cut off by his own greed. Do'nt you wish that life could be simpler than that? Is Jesus really encouraging us to be liars, cheats, and general all around finaglers? Or is this one of those seed strewn stories ready for truth to break through the hard surface of our expecations, a yeasty tale ready to raise our awareness that God does things differently than the owner and manager of this tale?
Our Jewish friends and neighbors have been observing Rosh Hashanah, taking seriously this business of cleaning out old yeast from every nook and cranny. (I Corinthians 5:6-8) Paul's first letter to the Corinthians spills over with evidence of the layers of transformation in which God is working.
Corinthians 11 shows Paul himself bound by “old yeast.”
And Corinthians 13 declares the balm in every Gilead:, the love that is the very character of God.
Love that skillfully restores what is broken,
Love that boldlyl renews what is worn out
Love that gently recreates what has died and is ready for new life.
Corinthians 14 gives an example of how a community can “grow up” and sets gifts in context of Community’s current needs.
This letter asks its readers whether they are ready for solid food or content to wallow in perpetual spiritual infancy. Infancy makes demands (my need, my way, my opinion), Paul describes a church full of infants, upset by quarrelling, jealousy, competition.
Growing up in Christ means more than trickery for survial. It means building muscle, increasing capacity, choosing to move toward fuller function, being able to do productive work without injury. It is a simpler way than the wreckage of holding onto infancy past its time.
1: 7-9: the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8 He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Sometimes God gives us parables in the world around us. Can you see the wisdom of a simpler way as we watch these geese?
Congregational Conversation: What did you notice?
•Lessons from Geese Fact 1: As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an “uplift” for the birds that follow. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock has 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.
•Lessons from Geese Fact 2: When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.
•Lessons from Geese Fact 3: When the lead bird tires, it rotates back into the formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.
•Lessons from Geese Fact 4: The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.
•Lessons from Geese Fact 5: When a goose gets sick, wounded, or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they launch out with another formation to catch up with the flock.
Mature Christian Community intentionally moves together into God’s transforming vision while providing care for the vulnerable among them. The need to care for one does not stop the purposeful momentum of all.
1 Corinthians 13 litany: response-“Love.”
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have _____(love),
I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have _____(love), I am nothing.
If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have _____( love), I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.....When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is ______(love).
Karen L Munson
United Methodist Pastor & Liturgical Artist