When we look at the founding the Church at Philippi (Acts 16) and read what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, we come to understand why God chooses to work through human weakness. His working through our weakness is a great mercy. If we come to think that we can build God’s Kingdom or meet our own spiritual needs with our programs, all is lost. “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord!”
Today’s lesson gives us a glimpse of early Christian community by focusing on Priscilla and Aquila and the church(es) that met in their household! This glimpse is enough to make us hungry for that community today.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights . . .” These hallowed words from the Declaration of Independence are the very core of the American ethos. The principle they express is enshrined in our Constitution with its Bill of Rights. Indeed, these words are engraved on every American heart. They have been the standard by which we judge our conduct. Without them there would have been no abolition, no women’s suffrage, and no Civil Rights Movement. They continue to call us to account for the condition of Native Americans and for the perennial struggle for racial justice. They protect the weak from the strong and create a space for every human life.
For most of my life I more or less associated, with little reflection, this principle of creation equality with the Bible’s affirmation that humanity had been created in “the image of God.” Then it dawned on me that creation in the divine image and created equal were two very different principles. To begin with, one was based on our relationship to God, the other, despite the word “created,” on our horizontal relationships. The one showed me how I was to treat my fellow human beings, the other, how I expected them to treat me. For, indeed, honesty demands that we also acknowledge the negative impact of the principle of creation equality. This approach has often fostered a self-centered ethic, an ethic that focuses on “my” rights, on what you owe me, instead of my obligations to you. It has been used to sanction acquiring every advantage for myself with little consideration for others—because it was “my right” to do so.
So, while we acknowledge the good that has come from the principle of creation equality, I suggest that the Bible calls us to a higher ethical standard. It calls us to treat others as creatures made “in the image of God.” It calls on us to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses” (C. S. Lewis, from the last paragraph of “The Weight of Glory.”)
When the disciples run away, the women who follow Jesus appear–at the Cross, at his burial, and at the empty tomb–with Mary Magdalene at their head. If you listen to the podcast below, you will not only see her as a “Portrait of Discipleship,” you will be drawn to follow Jesus.
Every summer we find spiritual refreshment by attending Camp Sychar in Mount Vernon, OH. This camp takes its name from the well at Sychar where Jesus met the Samaritan woman in John 4:4-42. Just inside Camp Sychar’s gate is a refreshing, ever-flowing well where all can drink. Many, also, have found Camp Sychar a source of the “living water” that Jesus offered the Samaritan on that hot day at Jacob’s well. The Sunday School lesson for tomorrow, Feb 7, is from this passage. Click below to listen to an explanation of this passage and drink once again, for yourself, from this “living water.”