Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Wait for each other, 1 Corinthians 11:23-34

1 Corinthians 11:23-34 (NRSV)

23 For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." 25 In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. 27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord.

33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 If you are hungry, eat at home, so that when you come together, it will not be for your condemnation.

Paul was writing to the Christians in Corinth who had developed a rather nasty habit of worshiping separately from one another and some were shut out of the Eucharistic Feast and had to worship later. This may sound trivial to us today, we who worship at churches that might have various services of various styles and liturgical forms. However, Paul was deadly serious about the fact that the people of Corinth should "wait for each other" and not make worship a factional, separatist kind of experience. Paul knew that the way that we worship and pray affects the way that we believe. Leonel Mitchell coined the phrase (in English) "Praying Shapes Believing" when he wrote his book on the liturgy with the same name. In Latin, the phrase is "Lex Orandi, lex credendi" - which can be translated, the law of prayer affects the law of belief.

The way that we gather the way that we worship the way that we offer reverence the way that we organize ourselves does have an effect upon the way that we believe. Our actions do help to create our lived theology. Worship is not really meant to be something that is a la carte, it is not really meant to be something that we choose what feels "best" or most "comfortable"...worship done well may challenge us beyond our comfort zones, and may move us to see that God is bigger than our imagination (and our liturgical tastes). "Wait for one another" is a challenging and helpful prayer to keep on my lips as we consider how we will be in relationship with people from other denominations and from other liturgical sensibilities.

If our praying does shape our believing, it matters that we do wait for one another and work to build up the Body of Christ rather than separate and fragment it. These are challenging and helpful word for us.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Thanks for this Peter. Very wise words—and very relevant in a culture where so many things tend to be dictated by consumer demand.