courtesy Jessica http://showerofroses.blogspot.com/
A SHROVE TUESDAY LESSON & BLESSING FOR YOU
By Rev. Barbara SextonDear Ones:
I've never been much of a cook, as family and friends will testify.
And this day, Shrove Tuesday, never fails to remind me of my shortcomings.
My mouth waters at the thought of the traditional treats-pancake suppers and 'cakes' and such traditionally made and baked to use up the household's 'fats' as we enter the period of Lent.
I've seen the most delicately and deliciously decorated Shrove Tuesday, Lenten and Easter treats and marvel at the skill of the women--and some men--who are capable of creating such masterpieces.
There is no doubt that cooking, preparing, decorating, serving and offering hospitality are gifts of the Lord and ones not given to everyone.
The Bible reminds us that we each, as members of the body of Christ, we each have different 'Gifts of the Spirit', to be used for the Glory of God and to be treasured by all.
I don't know if being a good and appreciative 'eater' counts for anything, but it is a small way--along with this Shrove Tuesday Lesson--to let everyone know how thankful I am for my fellow Christians all around the globe.
Please join me here for reflections as we enter our Lenten Season.
The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12-13:
Concerning Spiritual Gifts
1 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
This means that it is impossible for the true believer to blaspheme against (speak and act against and usurp the authority of) the existence of 'God in us' which we call 'The Holy Spirit'
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
Christians are to be united in the use of their various 'gifts' for the good of God first, then for others and lastly for themselves.
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
We are to 'work together'-sometimes easier 'said than done'-and to not be 'jealous' of each others gifts, for we are one Christian 'family' working towards the common goal of glorifying God through His Son Jesus Christ.
8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b] 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
Not everyone has the same gifts and these 'gifts' will manifest in different ways. What do you believe are your 'Gifts of the Spirit'? If you ever feel 'jealous' or resentful that someone appears to have 'better gifts' than you do, please do not fret. The Holy Spirit knows what is best and we are to trust in the Lord.
Unity and Diversity in the Body
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
No matter why Christians 'come together'...be it for scheduled worship or to prepare, serve and share a SHROVE TUESDAY PANCAKE DINNER, we are to do it in the spirit of unity, cooperation and most of all love. Too often today we forget that our brothers and sisters are all around the world and that God unites us through our faith in Him.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
Though we may not understand God's 'Grand Design'...or even 'discern that there IS one...we trust in our Creator. As science contributes more and more to our understanding of 'life', this passage reflects the 'awesomeness of God', be it in His collective plans for us, or in the genius of His design of our human bodies.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
This is as true of the 'actual' human body, as it is of the body of people who make up 'The Body of Christ' here on earth, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in each of us. Whether it's cleaning toilets for a church or social service function or preaching in a finely decorated church, the believer's contribution is invaluable in the eyes of the Lord. Whatever we do for Christ's Community is precious and valuable and will be remembered when we stand before our Maker.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[d]? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.
It is not always easy to discern 'who is who' in Christ's Community here on earth. There are many false prophets, false teachers and charlatans, no doubt about it. And it can be difficult to determine just exactly WHAT special abilities various genuine Christians have, but with time and patience, God will let us know. Be not 'jealous' of others' gifts, but, rather, strive to uncover those great gifts YOU may already possess without even knowing it.
Love Is Indispensable
And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
Paul sure DOES show us a most excellent way! For now we 'enter' and 'receive' a passage in Scripture below which is familiar to almost everyone, Christian or not. Indeed, 1 Corinthians 13 is a passage often quoted in marriage ceremonies all over the globe.
1 Corinthians 13
1 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
The bottom line is that all the gifts in the world and all the wonderful things that some Christians are capable of count for nothing without the manifestation of genuine love. Imagine that! A Christian can appear to be a total success in the eyes of the world and even to his or her fellow Christian believers. But every believer's heart is constantly and thoroughly being examined by our Heavenly Father and those who fall short will be 'outted' as phonies. But do not lose hope, for those previously unidentified as 'mountain-movers' will be made known to Christians everywhere, serving as a source of hope and....of course...love...all in God's good time.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
These are high ideals, not easily attained by 'the common man' were it not for the Power of the Holy Spirit within!
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.
Isn't it amazing that only 'love' endures? How can something so 'ethereal' end up being the only 'thing' that is real and enduring in the end? Surely this is yet another gift to us from God, if only we recognize it.
11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
1 Corinthians 12-13 (NIV)
There is a reason why we refer to ourselves as 'Children of God' and wish to be recognized as such. Yet what we 'glean' here on earth, working as God's 'eyes, hands, hearts and ears', is but a pale reflection of what awaits us in the Kingdom of Heaven.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Christians understand these things with their hearts. But 'the world', while understanding the 'etheral' concepts of hope and love, claims that 'faith' is just too arcane for them to 'believe in'. Don't they see that these are all part of the same construct?
Let this 'Shrove Tuesday' message be one of HOPE given in LOVE through the FAITH of the world's Christians--to all those who believe already...and to those who are 'seeking'.
With Love in Christ
Reverend Barbara Sexton
"The Biblical Biochemist-Where Science Meets the Cross"
courtesy of Jessica http://showerofroses.blogspot.com/