A COMMUNITY OF THE CALLED
Have you considered your own calling recently? When he addresses the Church at Corinth, St. Paul says this:
God is faithful. By him you were called into the
fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (I Corinthians
These days, where modern culture caters excessively to idiosyncratic opinion and personal taste, we do not typically think of the Church as a community of the called. “Maybe the Pastor has a calling,” we might say, “but not me. I come to the Church to get what I need… inspiration, comfort, hope…etc.”
The Church at Corinth was a chaotic and disorderly place. St. Paul’s task there was the same as it is for every Church today - To call us back to our first love: Jesus Christ, our Lord, who cared so much for us that he died in order to bring us the ultimate gift of a divine and glorified life.
In Chapter 12 of his First Letter to Corinth, Paul develops the Constitution of the Church. He first lays out gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit:
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (I Corinthians 12:4-7).
He then goes on to lay out our several callings:
As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” (I Corinthians 12:20-21).
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the Church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? …but strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. (I Corinthians 12:27-31).
That “more excellent way” is the gift of love, which he extols in Chapter 13 - a passage famous for its frequent use at weddings, but developed primarily as the bond of the Church.
Beginning in September, we shall have a series of pot luck events that feature open discussion time for everyone about our common life. I want to encourage us to target the unique and personal calling each of us has at Smith Church, and I will offer a simple framework to focus the conversation.
- Pastor Duke