Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. - I Corinthians 12:1
Saint Paul is writing to the church he planted at Corinth because he does not want them to be uninformed. I take it that he is writing this because they are in fact uninformed. If you read the full letter, you will find that they appear to be uninformed on a number of matters. Thank God for teachers like Paul who come along side us and help us. I find it good news to know I am not the only one in the dark and trying to figure things out. The church has a very long history of learning and often relearning who it is and what it is meant to . In this portion of Paul’s letter he instructs the church about spiritual gifts.
Some at Corinth were puffed up because of the spiritual gift they had. Holier than thou were they because in their eyes the spiritual gift given them was obviously more Godly, more powerful, more mysterious, and more significant to the mission of the church, therefore making them more worthy of honor than their brothers and sisters. Paul the teacher tells them and us that all spiritual gifts are from the same Spirit and all have the same purpose which is toward the common good of the community. He says that this is the Spirit’s doing, not ours, and so we have no personal claim either to more or less honor because of the gift we have been granted.
Our 1979 Book of Common Prayer communicates this in our baptismal covenant. In baptism, we are reborn by the Holy Spirit (p.306) and called to now confess the faith, proclaim the resurrection, and share with the church in the priesthood of all believers (p. 308). This is an important corrective to an otherwise clergy-centric church that would see the ordained ministry, but not lay ministries, as inspired by the Holy Spirit. We believe that all who have been called through the waters of baptism have been reborn and gifted for service to the church, within and outside its walls. The question is not if we are gifted, but do we know our gift or gifts and are we using them for God’s purposes.
Years ago, as a lay person, I participated in a spiritual gifts workshop. I recall that it helped me discern how I could best serve the church at that time with the gifts of mercy, faith, and teaching that I had at that time. It helped me find my place of ministry where I could use those gifts. Maybe you have participated in a similar workshop some years ago, or maybe this is all new to you. Regardless, I invite you to join me on Saturday, March 9 at 10:00am for a time for discerning our present gifts and conversation about where those gifts can best serve the mission of God in our time and place. Please see the sign up sheet in the hallway.
May God’s holiness be yours,