For the next 4 Sundays we will be working from the first line of our Vision Statement; ‘We are a COMMUNITY rooted in Christ.’ For this Sunday I want to center our focus on the word community.
The scripture lesson below uses the word church. Jesus was standing out-of-doors when he asked his disciples some probing questions about their choices… and about a new community that was about to form.
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’
Qs. Keeping the bolded phrase (above) in mind, what first comes into your mind when you hear the word ‘church?’
Does it make a difference that Jesus was standing out-of-doors when He said it?
The following scripture lesson is from a letter written to a church located in the city of Corinth, Greece. This entire church letter is inviting a number of correctives. Letters, by their very nature, are one-side of a larger conversation.
Q. In the excerpt below can you identify what problem the author of this letter is trying correct?
What do you think the author of this church letter meant by asking its members ‘to wait for one another?’
1 Corinthians 11:17-22; 33-34a
Now in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, to begin with, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and to some extent I believe it. Indeed, there have to be factions among you, for only so will it become clear who among you are genuine. When you come together, it is not really to eat the Lord’s supper. For when the time comes to eat, each of you goes ahead with your own supper, and one goes hungry and another becomes drunk. What! Do you not have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you show contempt for the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I commend you? In this matter I do not commend you!
So then, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. If you are hungry, eat at home, so that when you come together, it will not be for your condemnation.
Binding and loosing is a Jewish concept/phrase that many Christians have questions about. It simply means having the authority to forbid and the authority to permit.
The scripture lesson (below) has the relational life of the church/community in mind. It uses two words ‘sins’ and ‘fault’. It does not give any clues as to the content of what either of those two words are referencing.
Qs. Imagine yourself in a current situation of church life. Is it easier to point out ‘sins’ or ‘faults’ of another or is it easier to be on the receiving end of an offence when it is pointed out to you?
The lesson below hints at the complexity of humans.
Who is the best person(s) to help if your situation requires the authority of binding and loosing?
‘If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’