Monday, March 2, 2009

1 Corinthians 11-- Order

For those who know me I am not really know as a person who is picky about the order of things in worship. Meaning, I think there are a lot of right ways to do things which connect with God. In this section of 1 Corinthians, Paul addresses two areas of order in the church. First has to do with the relationship of women, men and the church, the second deals with the time of Holy Communion.

The relationship of women, men and the church is always a difficult conversation. In many fellowships and gatherings, a strict, and some would say faulty, reading of the scriptures is applied and women are not allowed to speak, much less teach or pray out loud at church. Others allow for prayer, but never to teach or preach, except in the crucial place of Sunday School. Still others place no restrictions on the ministry of any person. The classic question begs to be asked, who is right? The reality can be found in not asking who is right, but what does the whole of the Scriptures teach us. Even as I read this passage of 1 Corinthians, see there is much more openness than usually allowed for. When I broaden the reading to include the Bible as a whole, I see women in leadership, preaching and teaching roles throughout. It is popular to select a few passages here and there to support a limited view. Many who do so would claim to be 'biblical' when in fact it is only selectively biblical. I know this understanding well as I have been there. For a time in my journey I did not feel it was 'biblical' for women to be pastors, leaders and teachers in the church. A careful reading of the whole text however, transformed that view and highlighted a narrow reading of the scriptures.

What matters is keeping our relationship connection with God the fullest possible. This is not a gender thing, rather it is a discipleship thing. If a person is maintaining a deepening, and fervent connection with God, who are we are humans to say they are qualified or not?

As for the matter of Communion. Paul uses a lot of words to say, this is not ordinary meal. Additionally, this is not a meal for individuals only, it is a community meal. This meal is to be taken seriously, and a persons relationship with God should be examined before sharing in the meal. The caution is to not make this an empty ritual or a matter of status. Holy communion is a time to meet with God, and connect with the grace offered through Jesus Christ.

Order matters, as long as we do not becomes slaves to the order and lose site of the God who stands in the midst of it. The claim of order has done much harm, and much good. In all things we must seek to meet with God above all else.

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