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Summary: The Lords Supper - As the church - a time of unity. Who is worthy? A priviledge and not a gift.

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Where are the chairs?

1 Corinthians 11:17-34

This morning I expanded to include a few more lines of scripture than I gave to Dorothy.

I am guessing that having more scripture instead of less is not a problem. That doesn’t make the reading of scripture to be too long or anything does it?

I guess it is pretty obvious that we will be celebrating Holy Communion this morning. I don’t know about you but, communion has always been full of uncomfortable mysteries for me. I grew up Methodist and United Methodist. I have been around the traditions and rituals of our church since birth.

I was trying to dig back in this head full of trivia and grab some images or memories perhaps even a taste of communion as a child. I am sure that we used the little cups and the little crackers.

I do seem to recall that I was left in the pew when my parents received communion. I guess I get all the way up to middle school and High School before I have any clear direct recollections. But even then, I recall saying no when my parents asked if I wanted to go forward.

It took all afternoon yesterday, but I think I finally recall why. It had a lot to do with this scripture. I am sure that my pastor made other comments that got my attention as well.

But, I am sure that one of the reason’s I resisted going forward to receive communion was because I actually listened to the words of this reading.

Now in Paul’s day the Lord’s Supper was a supper a group meal. And it seems to have happened whenever the church gathered for worship. They came as a fellowship for dinner and worship or teaching.

From this description and the description elsewhere in the New Testament it sounds like a normal process.

That tells me that I must be spiritually sound in my love of a good fellowship supper.

In this church we set aside a special time for a group meal and dinner starts at that time giving everyone a chance to arrive. Different people bring their specialties, deserts, boxes of chicken . It is a real tough time to hang around the fellowship hall and wait for 7 o’clock to arrive.

In our scripture this morning, Paul sounds serious doesn’t he?

Perhaps upset or even angry.

“I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm that good.”

Whoa, what has he heard, who has been slipping him information?

How bad could it be really?

Let’s think about a few basic points, like who are members of the church?

Do they let wealthy people in the church back then? Of course they do.

How about merchants and trades people? No problem

What about day labors and delivery people? Well, yes

What about slaves? Ok

I think that is the reason Paul uses that description in Galatians 3:28 is because his understanding of a church body is a place of equality. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

In Paul’s day equality between people was not the norm. Slaves had noting, not even basic human rights. They were property. Women in general were just about as bad off. But the church that developed after Jesus Christ returned to be with the father was supposed to understand and be different that the rest of the world.

When people came together and still lived and acted as if there was a class difference…a priority difference, Paul was disappointed. And evidentially he was passionate enough to get angry at the shortsighted view of some of the people.

Who had the best opportunities to leave work early?

Who has the resources to bring best stuff, the good wine, the freshest bread and meats?

Probably, the people that had slaves to do all the work. People that has servants and workers to Handel the details.

So who would me most likely to arrive later in the evening? The day laborers and slaves. The poorer women.

Paul’s anger seems to rise from the point that they were gathering “as the church” and the real life differences that existed between church members were supposed to disappear.

At least in this one place in a weary and hard world, the playing field was leveled.

He is not worrying about differences in gifts and abilities; he was worried about how the people treated each other.

Not in the face to face sense but in how you act to ward them when they were not present.

Sharing between haves and have-not’s should at least happen within the church community even when the secular world could care less.

He is very subset that so few people were worried about the situation and he was not about to offer any kind of praise to a church that lived like the world.

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