Respectfully submitted by Brenda Worley
Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth was the focus of Mother Mary’s homily on this Second Sunday after Epiphany. There were problems in the church in Corinth. The members had become unruly and rowdy. They were bringing the world into the Church instead of the Church into the world. This letter was written in an attempt to help them change focus and live as Christians. He admonishes them to work while they wait and not to brag or establish superiority. He reminds the of who and whose they are.
There is reference to Sosthenes in this salutation. Sosthenes either helped Paul compose this letter or was the scribe for Paul. Not much is about him except that he was known to the church in Corinth. It would be akin to Mother Mary writing a letter to St. Timothy in Calhoun and dropping the name of Father Louis Tonsmeire who is well known to this congregation. Paul used this reference to gain their attention.
In the nine verses of the salutation there is a summary of what it means to be a faithful church. They were called to be saints being sanctified through Jesus Christ and knit together with all those who call on His name. He reminds them that they are not lacking in spiritual gifts. They are to be patient and strengthened as they wait so they may be blameless on the day of His coming.
Just as the church in Corinth, we also are sanctified and set apart for God’s work. We are called to participate wholly in the holiness of Christ. Mother Mary used the example of a church in Denver led by an Evangelical Lutheran pastor. House for All Saints and Sinners, HFASS or the House for short, is all inclusive regardless of race, creed, color, sexual identity, and is social injustice-oriented. It offers communion to everyone, regardless of whether they’ve been baptized, and it opens the liturgy to all who want to participate. What Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber and her church are trying to do is simple and radical: create an authentic Christian experience without the pretension that can come with church.
What lessons can we learn from our brothers and sisters in Denver? We are called to act outside of church and not be deterred by distractions in our everyday lives. Don’t point fingers or judge or panic. We must welcome all and make space for them and their gifts. With God’s help we can be ready to love and embrace anyone. We are made to be holy and to share it by reaching outward. Loving our church can not mean that we insulate ourselves and become blind and prideful.
On this Martin Luther King weekend, we are called to go into the world to face injustice with love not violence and there IS work to do. Our day marks an increase in violence against our fellow man due to race and religion. Stewardship of our environment is not seen as a priority We must not give up but live lives that let the Light shine through our openness and vulnerability. Stay calm, stay focused, stay open and Shine on!