Corinth was of strategic importance for its shipping and trade. In addition, it hosted the annual Isthmian Games, and was home to the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. It was therefore the gathering place of people from all over the world: some came to buy its bronze articles, some to use it as safe port for trade with Greece, and some to worship in the temple on top of the Acrocorinth.
Paul came to this city in AD50 from Athens. He found work as a tentmaker, in partnership with Priscilla and Aquilla. In the absence of modern hotels, travellers and tourists would live in tents, so there was always work for a tent maker. Acts 18 tells us that Paul preached to both Greek and Jew about Jesus, and a Christian Church was soon established here. It would seem that this church was made up of the variety of people that made up Corinth – and it was not long before they began to develop schisms. They wrote a letter to Paul asking him for advice. Paul replies, probably in AD57, from Ephesus,
The passage for today addresses them at their place of division: their understanding of the Holy Spirit. It would seem that some used their own unique experience of the Spirit to feel superior to others. Paul responds by pointing out that the Spirit of God was never given so that people could gain status. Instead, God’s Spirit was given for service: Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; Different gifts are given, but no one gift is greater than another: To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
Today I ask your prayers for my friend and colleague Ecclesia De Lange. I have known her for the past ten years as one who has lived her life in obedience to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Sadly, not all her colleagues have been able to see the Spirit at work in her life. She was born as a gay person, and reached a point in her life where she married her (female) partner. This led some of my colleagues to question her spirituality. Ultimately she was expelled from the Methodist Church – a decision she is now fighting in civil court. I am asking for our prayers – that we might discover that God gives different gifts to different people “for the common good”. In time may we learn to appreciate this.
Trinity Sunday30 The Triune God
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 190.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.