We met together for our February Bible study on the 14th. These studies are being shared across the United Reformed Church in the Vision4Life programme, with the hope that we will learn more about the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament, and so gain in our confidence and understanding.
In this study we were welcomed to Corinth, where the early church met in house groups since it was not safe in churches. Once a week they all gathered together for worship and to share the Lord’s Supper. We looked at a main assembly in Corinth held in the home of Gaius Flavius Maximus and in an audio visual presentation heard different experiences of the assembly expressed by Gaius and by Junia, a servant girl who regularly attended.
Gaius is a self confident person with whom it was not easy to disagree. Junia is an intelligent, sensitive young woman, who sees what is happening around her but has little power to change things. Paul in his letter to this young church runs out of patience with these inequalities of status, for in Christ Jesus such divisions are made one. There should be no difference in the experience of the confident man and the servant girl – all are equal in God’s sight.
In Corinth there was laughter and abundance in the main dining room, but no food left or love shown for those in the courtyard. What message did this portray to the outside world?
As we meditate on the letter Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, we are encouraged to take a critical look at our own church. We are being ‘read’ all the time – what messsage are we giving to other people? Are our buildings locked and cold, or open, warm and friendly? Do we join in the after service fellowship, or rush away back to our own lives?
Communion is one of the most important things we do in church – what signal does our communion service give about us to those who may be unfamiliar with the process?
A final challenge: do we honour the gift of hospitality? By inviting others into our own homes we turn strangers into friends and demonstrate the love and acceptance Jesus extended to all.