Friday, January 18, 2019

Christian Testament Text for Sunday 20 January 2019

1 Corinthians 12:1-11        Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says "Let Jesus be cursed!" and no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

Reflection        The other day one of our parishioners was in my office because she noticed a need that exists in our church and she wanted to fill it. Elaine gave me permission to tell this story. You see a couple of hours prior to a memorial service Elaine, a member of our flower guild, arrived at church with Sunday morning altar flowers. The thing is, she arrived at the same time as the florist who was delivering altar flowers for the memorial service, flowers which the deceased’s family wanted to remain at the altar for the Sunday service. Now Elaine goes quite a bit our of her way to prepare our altar flowers and so she was a bit confounded and reasonably asked, “Why was the flower guild not notified that flowers were not needed this Sunday?” 

Having no excuse I averred, “I dropped the ball. I am very sorry.” At which point Elaine could have bristled and walked away in a huff. Instead she noted, “Looks like you need help.” “That is for sure.”

Days later Elaine was in my office reviewing a checklist she created for making sure every eye is crossed and T is dotted for Memorial Services. Elaine recognized the need for a ministry at Apostles and now she is our Memorial Services Coordinator. But, that is not the whole story. As our meeting drew to a close Mojo saw the opportunity to steal a few strokes from Elaine who mentioned as she left my office, “I think it is about time I get myself a small dog.” Exit Elaine.

Almost immediately the phone rang. Claudia Tate, a bit out of breath blurts out, “Do you know anyone who wants a very sweet small dog?” It is a good thing Claudia kept talking about how her daughter Kendra  found the dog because I was speechless and already in route to catch up to Elaine and hand the phone to her. Before the day was over Elaine adopted and bathed her new four-legged friend, Angel.

Why do I tell this story today? Because our text from 1 Corinthians is about Gifts of the Spirit.

Gifts of the Spirit are understood as charisms, grace that is freely given for a purpose. We tend to think that we have to figure out, “What is my gift? my charism?” And maybe to some extent that is so. However,  the real question is, “What need exists in my church, my family, my community that I may serve?” You see, the gifts of the Spirit are given as needed, PRN. Identify and decide to serve a need and we will have the gifts required. Whenever we choose to align our will in the will of God by recognizing a real and worthy need we will be given whatever gift or grace is needed to accomplish the aim; wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, giving, discernment, administration, doing works of mercy. All of these are actions that make the Spirit of God visible in the the world through our cooperation.

Elaine recognized a need exists in her church and offered to serve. There is no doubt she will be given whatever gifts she needs to accomplish that aim. And not only that, she is given more than she asked or expected. Elaine received her Angel!

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