Monday, January 16, 2012

Looking Forward to January 22, 2012 -- 3rd Sunday After Epiphany

This week is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and so the Children's Time will be called One Church – Many Buildings

The Scripture Reading this week is:
  • 1 Corinthians 8:1-13

The Sermon title is Supporting Others in Faith

Early Thoughts: What do you do when the understanding from one culture clashes with teh understanding from another culture?  What if newer members of your community find that culture clash confusing?

In the world where Paul lives and writes meat was much less available than it is today.  And in many cases the meat at the local butcher shop came from an animal that had been offered as a sacrifice at the local temple.  So what?

Well it appears that for some members of the Christian community in Corinth this was an issue.  If the animal had been offered as a sacrifice did that mean that eating the meat validated the sacrifice -- making it an instance of idolatry?  Maybe they were recent converts and had spent many years with that understanding of sacrifice.  Maybe there were people who ate the meat knowing it to just be meat while others chastised them for backsliding.  OR maybe it was simply a culture clash born out of different understandings.  However the issue presented itself (likey all of these things in some combination) it was enough of an issue that someone in the community decided to ask Paul to give a definitive answer.  This passage is his answer.

Sometimes Paul is less than clear. Sometimes he doesn't really seem to give a clear answer. But then sometimes clear answers are over-rated. In the end Paul doesn't care about meat offered to idols. But some people in his world do. And so he tells us to act in ways that support the faith of others.

What are the "meat offered to idols" issues in our world today?  Where do we have to be careful lest we lead others into a misunderstanding?   In the end we are still called to act in ways that support the growth of our sisters and brothers.  The challenge of course is in figuring out exactly what that means.  And too often there are no clear-cut, definitive answers.

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