July 23, 2016: Day 55 – I Corinthians 11July 23, 2016
My Bible is stained on this page. On the left-hand side you can see the dark spot and some discoloring on the right side as well. There is a small rip on the bottom right as well. You should be able to tell, just from the look of the Bible, that they are well worn pages, and one that is used often. So why the stains on the Bible? If you look at chapter 11:23-26 they should be familiar to you. These are the words that we use for the Lord’s Supper. I have had this Bible since 1999 and each time I prepare communion I read from this Bible, from these pages. The stain is from the wine or the juice that has spilled on these pages over that time. These pages contain a lot of meaning to me. Paul gives us instructions on communion in these pages. Let’s take a look
Keep in mind that communion in Paul’s day was not simply a ritual, it was a meal that was essential to keep the Christian population, especially the widows, alive. They didn’t just have bread and wine as a memorial to Jesus’ life and death and resurrection, but rather they had an entire meal and this bread and the wine would close it off as a physical, tangible proof of the presence of our Savior. But people were taking advantage of this meal. Look beginning at vs.17 where Paul begins, once again, to chastise the Corinthians for how they have made this time a time of division.
This meal was meant to be shared. It was a pot-luck of spiritual proportions. Paul has some of his strongest words for those who would eat this meal selfishly and finish what they had without sharing with those around them. He tells them in vs.29 that those who misuse this time: “eat and drink judgment against themselves.” In fact, he associates the misuse of this time as the reason for why some of the people of that church were sick and had died. For Paul, it seems like a punishment for sin. His primary point is found in vs.33: “When you come together to eat, wait for one another.” What a great point.
Now all of this should overshadow the beginning of this chapter. Paul spends more time talking about hair in this chapter than he does spending time writing about homosexuality in all of his writing combined. I know, I’ve talked a lot about that issue, but I’m trying to put it within a context and a reality where we understand that this is not in any way a primary issue either for Paul and even less so for Jesus. Our stance is clear, but Paul seems to think how we wear our hair is more important than what our belief is in regards to homosexuality. You may have wondered where the whole idea of covering your head if you are woman while you worship. In our community we have a whole range of denominations who believe that women should cover their heads. It is from this chapter where that belief comes.
Paul makes statements in regards to a sense of hierarchy between men and women and that seems to fly a bit in the face of Galatians 3:28 where we read that in Christ there is no male or female. If I have to choose, I stick with Galatians. That isn’t enough, I know, we need to have more of a discussion on these verses. Why does Paul say such things if we are not to take it seriously? We are to take it seriously and Paul says some good things especially in vs.9 that there is an interdependence between men and women that cannot be denied.
This is where education in religion becomes very relevant. Education teaches us to read, to study, to look for contradictions and help us understand how each of these verses give us choices. For instance we do not cover women’s heads, we do not shun for questioning certain beliefs, we do not require a pope to confess our sins and ask forgiveness, we don’t believe in a go between us and God. Woman is to be subservient to her husband
not an interdependent relationship of equal beings. As our church family grows more of the people will be educated and look to pastors like you and Stacy to help us understand these discrepancies and apply them to growth in our spiritual life.