As I write, we’re a few weeks into a lengthy study of 1st Corinthians. It’s a great book because the culture in Corinth was so strikingly similar to the culture of our world today.
The other great advantage of studying this book for so long is that many of the themes (such as the Lordship of Christ, His death and resurrection, and the work of the Holy Spirit) come up at just the right time in the church year. This is especially true during Lent.
Lent is a season of grace, reconciliation, and hope. Since the earliest days, believers have used this time for penitence, fasting, and examination of the self, as well as to seek the restoration of those who are separated from the body of Christ through sin.
We’ll begin Lent with a service for Ash Wednesday (22nd February at 7pm), then on the first and last weekends in Lent, we’ll be using some of our oldest liturgy in a significantly more traditional feeling service than is our norm. In mixing things up a bit, our hope is that the cadence, poetry, and weight of the old words from 1662 force us to slow down, and take things in.
Lent ends with Palm Sunday and this year we’ll be celebrating an instructed Holy Communion service together (where we pause the flow of the service several times to ask why we say the things we say and what they really mean). Again, the timing is great, because much of our Communion liturgy comes from 1st Corinthians.
One of Paul’s aims, in writing to the Corinthian church, was to get them to understand what they believe, and why. I think he could see that they had been so steeped in the cultural thinking of the age that they lacked some of the tools they needed to analyze things from a Christian world view.
Like them, the more we steep ourselves in the carefully curated content of the digital age, the harder it becomes for us to reach Christian conclusions, because we’re not thinking with Christian categories in the first place. How will our members learn to live for Christ, if the debates we’re having have been framed by those who do not know Him? This means, as tough subjects come up (on subjects like human sexuality, marriage, divorce, death, the environment, and discrimination), we need to pause and ask “why do I think what I think?” and “who told me to think about it that way?” and “is there a more excellent way?”.
This Easter, some of what we do will provide a contemplative, formal, and quiet space for such thoughts, but some of our events will look more like the informal, interactive, and bustling house church of Corinth.
As usual, we’ll be treating all of the services from Maundy Thursday, through to Sunday lunch as one single event an it will be much easier to see the narrative of the passion unfold if you’re able to come to all of them.
Finally, after Easter, all the way up to Pentecost, we’ll be looking at the power of the Holy Spirit to change the church as we change the world.
I’m thrilled to be teaching our way through such a long and technical, yet deeply applied and relevant book. Seeing our small groups and service teams thrive is a delight, and, like Corinth, it feels like the Lord is on the move.
Love in Christ,