Saturday, January 15, 2011
Sermon Notes for Second Sunday after Epiphany
Paul’s Epistle to the Church at Austin
1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Second Sunday after Epiphany
January 16, 2011
Suppose you lived in a city that was a wealthy, thriving regional commercial and political center dominated by a youthful population that was upwardly mobile in their social orientation towards cultural and economic advancement. Suppose this home city of yours was also renown for athletic competition and academic flourishing. Suppose you lived in such a city and it was also a place that tolerated a multitude of religious persuasions, including a fair number of people who practiced occult arts. Suppose that in addition to all of these things, this city of yours was a place of excessive arrogance, as well as sexual licentiousness, the kind of city whose name was synonymous with good times and wild parties. Oh, wait. You do.
Suppose you lived in a time when the church was afflicted with divisions, immaturity, law suits among competing bodies of believers, confusion over marriage and human sexuality, a lack of discipline, strange teachings about spiritual gifts, heresies about the Second Coming, confusion about the sacraments, and uncertainty about how to relate to a surrounding culture increasingly hostile to the Gospel. Oh, wait. You do.
For all of these reasons and more we do well to pay close attention to Paul’s Epistle to the Church at Colonia Laus Julia Corinthiensis – the full name for Roman Corinth: the Julian Colony of Rome at Corinth. Paul envisions a new kind of colony in Corinth, from a new and supreme Lord, the true Savior of the World and Israel’s Messiah, Jesus Christ. Like us today, the ancient Christians of Corinth who were the first members of the Colony of Christ’s Kingdom in Corinth faced tremendous obstacles to their faith. The Apostle’s instruction to them is comforting and confrontational, wounding and healing, as necessary and crucial for us now as it was for our fellow believers when Paul first put pen to parchment.
I. The Corinthian Christians
A. Apostolic Foundations – 1:1-4
1. Acts 18 and the Genesis of the Church
• Paul’s apostolic calling and apostolic seal
- “My ear thou hast pierced” – Psalm 40
- “Salvation to the ends of the earth” – Isaiah 49:1-7
2. Grace and Peace – Charis and Shalom
B. Apostolic Summons – 1:2, 7-9
1. Become what you already are by grace: Holy Saints
2. Live in what you already are: Holy Community
II. The Corinthian Catastrophe
A. Division – 1:10-13a; 3:1-3
B. Immorality – 5:1; 6:13-15
C. Arrogance – 5:2; 8:1-2
D. Syncretism – 10:21
E. Isolationism – 5:9-11
F. Snobbery – 12:15-25
G. Heresy – 15:12-14
III. The Corinthian Calling – and Ours! 1:9
A. Saints to the End – 1:2
• We are sanctified and called to be holy
B. Saints Together – 1:2, 8-9
• We are saved personally but never alone
• We are a local congregation but we are inseparably united with all Christians
- We are truly catholic
C. Saints to be Trained – 1:8; 14:37
But how is it that any of us may arrive at 'guiltless' and 'blameless' on the Great Day? The answer is in the Gospel lesson today: "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of world." Our hope - our only hope - is Christ the Lamb of God and in the blood he has shed for us and our salvation. The crimson flow is sufficient to cleanse from every stain and powerful enough to shatter the strongholds of any sin and all shame. Behold Him! Look to him!
This calling is our calling as surely as this catastrophe is our catastrophe. Moreover, this commitment to the truth of the Apostolic message must be ours as well. This begins with repentance and humble hearing of God’s word, joined with a renewed thanksgiving for the grace and peace, the charis and shalom that is ours in Christ Jesus, the same grace and peace he calls us to give to the world.