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Environmental Stewardship Commission

Episcopal Church in Minnesota

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Upcoming Activities:

Next Meeting:

We meet quarterly close to the solstice and equinox.

Annual Special Projects


Resolution on the Spirituality of Food Production

Resolution on Church Buildings and Grounds

Resolution on Creation Season

Resolution on Green Congregations



Lectionary Reflection

Year A, Epiphany 7
Standard (Episcopal) Lectionary – Revised Common Lectionary
New Testament Reading

1 Cor. 3:10-11, 16-23

According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written,

‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’,
and again,
‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise,
that they are futile.’

So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.


Reflection on 1 Cor. 3:10-11, 16-23
by John G. Gibbs, PhD

Whose We Are

Bumper sticker morality does not cut it for spiritual people (3:1). Sound-byte propaganda does not feed Church leaders adequately to be "God's servants, working together" (3:9). Party labels do not One People make. "Solid food" is not to be found there.

Everything depends on "Whose we are." The Church ("you" plural in the Greek text at 1:16-17) cannot exist suspended in the thin air of popular media programs, whether they be "evangelical" or secular, this wing or that wing. The Church is "God's temple," within which "God's Spirit dwells" (3:16), and dwells to such an extent that Church leaders "have a common purpose" (3:8).

The building of a Church of God in a given place makes clear that the Church belongs to God, and not to the folks who put up the building and raise the funds to maintain it. The Church in that place was started and is supported "according to the grace of God" (3:10), which provides plenty of room for our initiative and choices as we build on the foundation that is Jesus Christ (3:11).

The Spirit is not a private possession — nor a public possession, for that matter. The Spirit belongs to God, which means among other matters that the Spirit is not our subjective impression or feeling. The Spirit is objectively real, so far as Paul was concerned. What makes the Church "holy" (3:17) is not the purity of individual members. It is the indwelling of the Spirit of God.

We do not write blank checks to any human leader (3:21, "let no one boast about human leaders"). We are not impressed by "the crafty and futile" (3:19-20), for we are under the influence of the Spirit who "catches" all that (3:19).

We both actively possess, and are passively possessed. First, "all things are yours" (3:21), "all belong to you" (3:22), including human leaders and life and death. Second, "and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God." "Belonging" is a relationship that we experience both by having things that belong to us and by being possessed. "Whose" we are becomes clear both in what we possess (and do not or would not possess), and in the fascinations that capture us, the loyalties that command us, the aims and intentions that drive us forward and backward, sideways, up and down.

As it turns out, who we are is determined by whose we are. We do not live inside a vacuum suspended in neutrality between competing gravities. Our lives are shaped and our characters formed by the One to whom we belong in life and in death. The Heidelberg Catechism's first question is: "What is your only comfort, in life and in death?" Its answer begins: "That I belong - body and soul, in life and in death - not to myself but to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ…"

How we live within the creation is determined by how we live with others, and all that is determined by Whose we are. The Creation, and care for it, are not explicitly mentioned here. But in fact our care of earth depends on us belonging to Christ. When all things are ours, the Creation suffers unless we belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

Printable version

To Reflections on other Readings for Year A, Epiphany 7:

Reflections available at the active links
Standard (Episcopal)
Revised Common
Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) Reading:
Leviticus 19: 1-2, 9-18
Leviticus 19: 1-2, 9-18
Psalm 71 or 71: 16-24
Psalm 119: 33-40
New Testament Lesson
1 Corinthians 3: 10-11, 16-23
(this page)
1 Corinthians 3: 10-11, 16-23
(this page)
Matthew 5: 38-48
Matthew 5: 38-48


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:

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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