February 16, 2020
1 Corinthians 3:1-9
And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh.
For as long as there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.
So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labour of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.
Gospel reading for Feb 16: Matthew 5:21-37
Something to Do
Bring the image to life: solid food or soft
Paul uses a wonderful, concrete image in this passage of his letter to the church in Corinth, comparing the full complexity of faith to solid food and the immature faith of the people to food that even babies can handle. Take advantage of this strong image by bringing it off the page, especially if you have children in your household.
Compare baby food to solid food. You could go out and purchase a jar or just purée up a well-cooked sweet potato. If you have the resources, you could whip up a serving of infant formula or pablum. Then talk about the pros and cons of the kinds of food. Notice that they are all food – maybe even the same kind of food – but made suitable for different people with different needs.
Bring the image to life: how does a garden grow?
Sadly, it is not the season for outdoor planting activities. You could still plant something indoors, though, and share in the work of caring for a little piece of God’s creation. No matter who plants the seed and no matter who waters it, the growth belongs to God.
Something to Wonder
I belong to Apollo
The letters to those early Christians are so tantalizing! They point to such rich and wonderful stories full of complicated people with interesting lives and communities rife with drama but never give us the complete tale. Who was Apollo, exactly? Why was the community playing at factions? How did they feel about being called immature? Was Paul really as relaxed about his importance to the community as he claims?
Let your imagination run a little wild and tell yourself a story or two about what led to this letter.
Where – in the actual text or in your imagination – are there parallels with situations in your own experience?
jealousy and quarrelling
Some things are timeless. What brings out the jealousy and quarrelling in you? In your family? In your communities?
How do these behaviours or inclinations interfere with your spiritual growth? How might you avoid triggering them? Or how might you better manage them once they are triggered?
Something to Learn
Flesh and Spirit
Paul frequently uses flesh and spirit as opposing terms and, as a result, created a good deal of anti-flesh bias in Christian thought. As is often the case, however, things are more complicated than they seem.
Fr. Richard Rohr has a brief piece tackling this dichotomy on the Centre for Action and Contemplation website: Paul’s Dialectical Teaching: Flesh and Spirit
This piece, by the Rev’d Morgan Guyton, a United Methodist pastor, takes us deeper into the sources of our confusion by looking at both Greek philosophy and Paul’s influence on how we hear the words “flesh” and “spirit”: “What is the difference between spirit and flesh” on Patheos
Something to Pray
Holy God, we do not always understand your word or your ways.
Give us wisdom and imagination and courage as we learn and grow.
The story this week has made me wonder about…
(what questions are still on your heart?)
Receive my questions and help me hear your answers.
The story this week has filled me with…
(how are you feeling?)
Accept my praise, heal my hurt, ease my worry.
The story this week has reminded me of…
(are there situations or people you are thinking of?)
Be with all who are in need of you.
In Jesus’ name, we pray.