Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 34; 146, Genesis 49:29-50:14, 1 Corinthians 11:2-34, Mark 8:1-10
First century Christians had a different experience of church than altars, organs, choirs, and pews. For safety and other reasons, they gathered in private homes and spaces. Before celebrating The Lord’s Supper, they often had a full meal called a love (agape) feast. Everyone brought food and wine according to their means, and the bread for the Lord’s Supper was taken from the remnants of the earlier meal. The potluck may be one of the earliest Christian traditions.
Paul was disturbed by what he heard was happening at these gatherings in Corinth. Some wealthier members brought a lot of food, but didn’t share it with those who could bring little or nothing. Others were drunk by the time the real purpose of the gathering – celebrating the Lord’s Supper as a community in Christ – could begin. Paul told them whatever these people were celebrating, it certainly wasn’t the Lord’s Supper, because they were in no way honoring the Lord with their mindset or behavior.
Today the agape meal is a far less common form of church gathering, but we are vulnerable to the same types of problems. Participating in communion and worship while we are indifferent to the needs of our neighbors undermines the message of Christ. We may not be drinking wine during Sunday services, but if while we are gathered we indulge our excesses of gossip, vanity, and judgment we are no more focused on Christ than the drunk Corinthians were.
Church is the body we live in constantly. We can’t neglect or abuse the body and expect it to remain healthy. The Sabbath is meant to be a day of rest and worship. Waiting to exercise our faith one day a week is doing exactly the reverse – like sitting on the couch all day Monday through Saturday then trying to run sprints on Sundays – not only aren’t we prepared, we’re doing the body more harm than good. Our week should prepare us for Sunday as much as Sunday prepares us for the week.
Comfort: Jesus is with you all week long.
Challenge: Try to approach every person and situation as if it is a test of your faithfulness. It is.
Prayer: Merciful God, make me ever-mindful of your presence, grace, and will. May my every act be one of worship and gratitude. Amen.
Discussion: When are you on your “best behavior?” When are you not? Why not?
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