Are we to be pitied? (Looking @ 1 Corinthians 15:12-20)

Last Sunday y’all gathered.  And while I wasn’t able to join y’all…I am grateful that you were still there & that Gina facilitated (THANK YOU!).  So you gathered.  You prayed.  And you continued as we do…with checking-in with homework.  The assignment had been to be attentive to the instances of abundance that we perhaps resisted throughout the week.  Now I hear that there was not too much offered here…it was the homework given by our guest leader the week prior, Anne, and so maybe we felt like a class with a substitute teacher — you know what I mean…we don’t have to take them seriously.  BUT, perhaps this invitation is something that we will carry at least in the back of our minds — as it seems to me that often God offers us grace (& graces) that make us uncomfortable….uncomfortable because it’s not what we expect, uncomfortable because we might know full well we do not deserve it, uncomfortable because maybe we want to stay feeling sorry for ourselves and when we receive grace often we change (seeing grace is seeing love and it seems that love is the most transformative & healing force we’ve ever known!)  May we be always open to God, open to grace (and especially grace that makes us uncomfortable — may we be bold enough to ask God to help us accept the gifts being offered!)

Then you turned to the scripture being considered — 1 Corinthians 15:12-20:

12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

And started wrestling with (yet again!) a hard to understand text.  Talk about death & resurrection.  Talk about a faith that is honest or a faith that is worthless (futile…failed).  I hear that there was talk around this, considering what resurrection means — which is important considering that those who saw Jesus (raised from the dead Jesus) did not initially recognize him — but then they did/could — but also this resurrected body was different than the one that walked the earth….meaning the Jesus raised from the tomb in some real way was different than the one that walked to the cross (and guess what, we don’t know all the specifics yet, sorry!).  So what does that mean for us?  How are we to understand this text today?  And furthermore, do we find it encouraging or infuriating?

The homework are a set of questions….

  • Do we believe verse 19: “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”?  (Why or why not?)
  • Does the belief that Christ is risen make a difference in your daily life?  (Why or why not?)

It’s Friday night…there is time still (whether you’ve been considering these since Sunday or whether you’ve just now been reminded!) — to consider this text and these questions.  I’m interested in the wisdom that will gather around the table.  I’m interested in the blessing that comes from wrestling with challenging texts (in scripture & life!) that can only come through struggle as a gift from God.  So — what say y’all?

See you soon!

~ Rev. Sabrina Slater 

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