1 Corinthians 1:1-9
The church of North America is changing. Gone are the days of full sanctuaries, packed parking lots, and crowded Sunday school rooms on most Sunday mornings. For a multitude of reasons fewer people are committing to weekly worship, church membership, or even belief in God. The number of those who say they have no religious affiliation has recently doubled. Church properties sit under-used or vacant. What's an anxious church to do?
Not panic. The changes that churches as organizations will have to make in the next generation will call on our best religious imaginations to navigate. No longer will we simply be able to point to a building as the image of our congregation; we will need to re-imagine ourselves as spiritual communities joined together by love of God and love of neighbor.
Paul assured the small group of believers in Corinth that they were part of the fellowship of Jesus, a growing community that was scattered in towns along the eastern Mediterranean. Don't you wonder what "church" might have meant to them in a world that was rapidly changing around them, too?
I love the church, O God, but it is changing all around me. Keep me from despair, and give me eyes to see what you are calling us to be in these changing times. Amen.
1 Corinthians 1:1-9 (NRSV)
1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,
2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus,
5 for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind--
6 just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you--
7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
8 He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.