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Minnesota Episcopal
Environmental
Stewardship
Commission (MEESC)

Episcopal Church in Minnesota
Shield of Episcopal Church

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Resolution on the Spirituality of Food Production

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Lectionary Reflection

Year A, Epiphany 5
Standard (Episcopal) Lectionary – Revised Common Lectionary
New Testament Reading

1 Cor. 2: 1-11

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.

Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,
‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the human heart conceived,
what God has prepared for those who love him’—

these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God.

 

Reflection on 1 Cor. 2: 1-11
by John G. Gibbs, PhD

Wisdom for the Mature

Several emphases stand out in this text. For one thing, "the mystery of God" is not "lofty" but practical, already demonstrated in the outcome of the crucifixion of Jesus who turned out to be "the Lord of glory" (2:8). Unlike contemporary "mystery religions," this wisdom is for the ages ("decreed before the ages," 2:7). So practical is it, indeed, that it tricked "the rulers of this Age" (Cf. note on 2:8 in Oxford Annotated NRSV), and delivered on the promise that God had prepared for those who love God (2:9).

For another, the mystery of God acts within history, and is not confined to some other world. It connects "what is truly human" with "what is truly God's" (2:11). Accordingly, the Apostle Paul looked most of all for one pervasive reality within the Church of God at Corinth, namely "Jesus Christ and him crucified" (2:2). Presence of the Risen Crucified One was and remains essential for the existence of Church as the called People of God. Our full humanity depends on that presence remaining within "the Body," that is, within the Church.

Third, this mystery of God was incarnate in Christ Jesus, "who became for us wisdom from God" (1:30). Members of the Church at Corinth were by the standards of their surrounding culture foolish, weak, low, despised, but God elected them to turn the tables on that culture — "to shame" the wise and strong (1:26ff.). That is, a new wisdom for the "mature" (2:6) was beginning at Corinth to displace "childish ways" (13:11). Regnant values were upended. What had been ostracized now was honored, for it had been "reframed" by a completely new value system (in God's wisdom).

If that was the Church at ancient Corinth, it is also to be the Church in this century at our place. It is the destiny of the Church on earth to turn the tables on cultural expectations, and demonstrate what real wisdom is, what real strength is, what effective communication is — namely, not words alone, but "a demonstration of the Spirit and of power" in real life (2:4). Mature wisdom does the unexpected, and takes by surprise those who mistake tangible things and quantifiable items for the unseen intangible driving life force in all our experience.

Fourth, our life is not two-dimensional like words strung out across a page or a monitor. Where there are motives, intentions, thoughts, feelings, "what no eye has seen, nor ear heard" (2:9) - there are the intangibles, the unseen realities, that determine what we do, how we live. What we aim for sets our direction. "The purposes of the heart" (4:5) determine to what extent (if at all) we are "servants of Christ and stewards of God's mysteries" (4:1). There beneath the surface of our activity is where God's mysterious wisdom works. There we come to life in three-dimensional (or more) reality as folks most unexpectedly "called to be saints" (1:2).

All of the above speaks powerfully to care of the earth! That undertaking goes against the grain of much popular expectation that we should aim exclusively for profit, increase our bottom line, and take for granted the world and its resources. Care of the earth requires doing the unexpected, presupposes mature wisdom that drinks at the springs of God's wisdom for the ages. The earth can be "kept" (Gen. 2:15) only by those who image Creator God.

Printable version

To Reflections on other Readings for Year A, Epiphany 5:

Reflections available at the active links
Standard (Episcopal)
Lectionary
Revised Common
Lectionary
Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) Reading:
Habakkuk 3:2-6, 17-19
Isaiah 58: 1-9a (9b-12)
Psalm
Psalm 27
Psalm 112: 1-9 (10)
New Testament Lesson
1 Corinthians 2:1-11
(this page)
1 Corinthians 2: 1-11
(this page)
Gospel
Matthew 5:13-20
Matthew 5:13-20

 

John G. Gibbs, PhD, a retired theologian, resided in Park Rapids, MN, when he originally wrote this reflection in 2010.  He and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:


MEESC
c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the website.

   

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