Third Sunday after the Epiphany
Jan 23, 2022
prepared by Karen McBride
1 Corinthians 12:12-31
Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?
But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? 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.” On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honourable we clothe with greater honour, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honour to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it.
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? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But strive for the greater gifts.
Something to Do
Contemplate the incredible human body
In this Epistle reading, Paul uses the metaphor of the human body to teach the Corinth community how to be “church.” Take some time this week to reflect on the interconnectedness and interdependence of our bones, organs, muscles, and nerves. In fact, is there any part of our bodies that operates independently?
Do you have a friend from a different Christian tradition? In this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, consider reaching out to that person and having a conversation. Maybe broach the topic by noting it’s the Week for Prayer for Christian Unity, asking what they value about their tradition, as well as about the ministries supported by their parish. Reflect on how a diversity of approaches may be beneficial for the church.
Attend a worldwide book launch on Jan 19! – TIME SENSITIVE
Register here https://www.oikoumene.org/events/webinar-dawn-of-ecumenism to attend a webinar on Wednesday, January 19 from 10:00 am – 11:30 am (Ottawa time) marking the launch of the book The Dawn of Ecumenicalism which traces the long-term roots of ecumenism from historical, theological, and political perspectives. Hosted by the World Council of Churches in celebration of the 2022 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the webinar will feature speakers from across Europe with simultaneous interpretation in French and English.
Alternatively, you can read more about the history of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which has been held annually since 1908, here: https://www.weekofprayer.ca/history-week-prayer-christian-unity.
Something to Wonder
What does “unity” mean in the context of the church? According to the dictionary, in general terms unity is “the state of being united or joined as a whole.” And that was certainly part of what Paul was getting at in his letter to the Corinthians. But Paul was saying something deeper, as well, through his metaphor of the church as a “body,” something more along the lines of “integration,” or “mutual dependence.”
To what extent are we comfortable with this notion as followers of Christ?
To what extent might the idea make us bristle?
Is “being united or joined as a whole” the same as being “controlled”?
How is the idea of “communion,” defined as “the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level” different from “unity”?
Are we more comfortable or less comfortable with this term?
How do you think the worldwide Christian community would be different today if the body of the church that Paul talks about had only one ecclesiastical structure and tradition, as it did at the beginning of the Christian story?
Something to Learn
Christians in the Middle East
In any given year, the theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is proposed and developed by a designated national/regional ecumenical organization. For 2022, the Middle East Council of Churches was given that responsibility and chose the theme “We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him” (Matthew 2:2), a theme with special meaning for Christians of that region for whom the celebration of Epiphany is a more significant feast than Christmas.
In her address to the Canadian Council of Churches last November (found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfll4uI49hk), The Rev. Dr. Rima Nasrallah of the National Evangelical Church of Beirut (representing The Middle East Council of Churches) reflects on the challenges that the Christians in the Middle East face today, on the main scripture text for the 2022 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Matthew 2:1-12), and on the key themes that inspired the international materials for this global ecumenical celebration.
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.