Summary: This sermon is about what God is doing IN and THROUGH Jesus!
Paul addresses the Church in Corinth with this opening greeting despite what was happening in the church, and as a prelude to the teachings he will soon deal with. There were some things happening in Corinth that needed seriously addressed, but that is not where Paul begins. He could have begun with a chasting words, and a stern instruction to clean up their act. Instead he begins with a blessing in prayer thanking God for the grace given IN Jesus Christ. He then continues with how Christ has worked THROUGH them. That phrase caught my attention... IN and THROUGH!
Can you imagine that, as much as Paul was eagerly wanting to address the problems with the Church, he begin by addressing what God is doing IN and THROUGH Jesus! Our relationship with God is one that "springs from an intimate relationship... IN and THROUGH Jesus Christ! (Feasting on the Word, "Theological Perspective,pp. 14-)
Carlos Cardoza-Orlandi describes this a "two way movement", IN and THROUGH. I find that God does works IN us changing us by His grace, and THROUGH us to work His grace in the world.
"The gift of grace IN and THROUGH Jesus Christ nurtures and prepares the community for its journey of faith". (Feasting on the Word, p.16) As Paul points out testimony about Christ is confirmed IN and THROUGH Jesus.
"IN and THROUGH Jesus the faithful are equipped". "IN and THROUGH Jesus, the Christian community discovers and rediscovers, the grace of God, over and over again, fresh every time. IN and THROUGH Jesus we are faithful witnesses of God's grace."
"This two way movement is part of a spiritual continuum. Unlike a tangent to a circle, the grace of God IN and THROUGH Jesus Christ flows not only between God and the Christian community, but also in a Christian communities daily experience..."
"This testimony of God's grace IN and THROUGH Jesus "will also strengthen you to the end".
The application is that in our own struggle to live out lives of faithfulness "we must give witness to God's grace IN and THROUGH Jesus".
152 years ago, God was working IN and THROUGH early Uvalde residents to bring about the Methodist Episcopal Church, and 152 years later, God is working IN and THROUGH a form of that same church we call The United Methodist Church.
100 to 101 years ago God was working IN and THROUGH those Methodist’s, like D.W. Barnhill to build a sanctuary. They sacrificed and build it for the cost of $30,000.
Over the last 100 years, God has worked IN and THROUGH United Methodist. An office Building was added. In 1950 the Fellowship Hall and Chapel area was added. Then the Educational Wing and then in 1994 this Building we are in today was added. Today is an historic day, was we worship in Weston Hall as part of the sacrifice the restore the 100 year old Sanctuary and to make it handicap assessable; add adequate entry space and bathrooms. Can you imagine that in the last five months, during tough economic times, we have taken in just under $500K in gifts and pledges, while at the same time nearly $175-200K towards our regular budget.