Wednesday Wondering - October 4, 2023
Scripture: 1Corinthians 12: 4 – 11
4God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. 5God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. 6God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. 7Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! 8The variety is wonderful:
healing the sick
distinguishing between spirits
interpretation of tongues.
11All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when.
I would like to start off with a short story today. I was beginning my ministry and I was asked to go and visit with a member of the congregation where I was working at the time. I went to see this individual and we were sitting and having a chat. Suddenly this individual got up and said that they had tea and cookies and would I like some. I politely declined this offer and didn’t think too much of it. When I was speaking with another minister about this interaction they asked me why I would decline. I responded that I did not want to impose on the person that I was visiting. Their response surprised me. They asked how my declining the offer of tea and cookies could be seen as my blocking this person’s ability to offer the gift of hospitality to me and what that might have said to this individual. Up until that moment and this conversation I had never really thought about this situation in that way.
Okay, one more story, just because it is Wednesday. When I was in theological college we had chapel services every morning. These services were student organized and led and they were really the spiritual life of the community. My first day at chapel of my first year I was asked if I would read a particular part of the service. I reluctantly agreed because I really didn’t know anyone there and I thought that being involved might help me meet people. Not only were students present but so were all of the faculty, and some of the staff of the college. So the service began and I got up to do my part, only to realize after that I was at the completely wrong place in the service and it had, in essence, messed up the order of the entire service. I was horrified. I sat back down and when the correct time came I stood up and went to the lectern and read my part of the service, after making a comment about, “now it is my turn.” Everything seemed to turn out okay, or at least that is what everyone told me after the chapel service.
So both of these stories are about the offering of gifts. They are stories about gifts that we each have and are challenged to offer to another. In the first story I was asked to look at my actions and how they might impact the ability of another to offer gifts to myself and others. The second story was about the gift that I offered, even though I was, and still am, not perfect, yet that gift was graciously accepted. In the reading from 1Corinthians Paul is speaking to those at Corinth about the gifts that come from God through the Spirit.
I believe that each one of us has been given gifts to share with this world. Are those gifts going to be shared perfectly? I doubt that, but we are still asked to share those gifts regardless. Are those gifts going to be graciously accepted every time? Probably not, but we are still called to offer them. These gifts that we have to offer, to the world, are as unique as each one of us and I truly believe that they come from God. We are challenged, as people of faith, to look at the gifts that we bring, to offer those gifts to those around us, to then accept the gifts that others are offering, and in this way we continue to allow these gifts of the Spirit to move throughout the world. It is important for us to recognize the gifts that we each have and them to offer them to those around us, including this community. But it is also important that we open up a safe space for others to offer their gifts to us as well. To offer the gift of ourselves and accept the gift of others is what we are called to do as Christians. It is accepting, embracing, and celebrating the uniqueness of each one of us. It is accepting the uniqueness of who we were created to be and accepting the same in others.
God of wondrous diversity, help me to recognize the gifts that you have given me to share with the world. Give me the courage to bring those gifts to those around me. Help me to have an open heart and an open mind so that I will be open to receive graciously the gifts that so many others have to bring to me and the world. We ask this in the name of the greatest gift, Jesus. Amen.