Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Get ready! Get ready! Great ready!

Get ready! Get ready! Great ready!

We want to see you in Houston, Texas, April 25-27, Tuesday through Thursday.  American Baptist Churches of the South is meeting in its 47
th Annual Session.  The 2017 theme embodies the denomination’s  organizational goals around unity, “Coming Together, Sharing Together, and Working Together with God”, supported with I Corinthians 3:9.  It will be here that we will have an opportunity to be exposed to many of the American Baptist denominational ministry partners and affiliates.

We learn from the Corinthian Epistles that the communication between Paul and the Churches continued over several years.  The history of that relationship is complex. Paul preached in and around Corinth for some eighteen months and probably wrote at least four letters.  The first being lost, (I Corinthians 5:9), the second which is our First Corinthians answers both oral and written communications sent previously from that community.  The third letter, our Second Corinthians, is somewhat harsh as Paul relays this sentiment, “Out of much affliction and anguish of heart,” in Second Corinthians 7:8-12.  It is believed by some that Titus may have delivered this letter, (Second Corinthians 10-13.)  The fourth letter is believed to have been reaching for reconciliation.

Evenings after supper, I am encouraged to watch the television game show, Jeopardy.  Since 1984, Alex Trebek has hosted this tense quiz show created by Merv Griffin, racking the brains of viewers like myself.  It’s like the other shows except contestants are given the answers and they must answer by providing the questions.  The Pauline Epistles are presented to us in this fashion.  We have today the answers to questions believers raised with the Apostle Paul.  Our task then is to reason about what the original questions may have been.  Paul mentions the report made by Chloe’s people in (First Corinthians 1:11), and the phrase, “now concerning”, leads us to believe he is responding to concerns brought to him and in the Corinthian letters the concerns are many. 

The Pauline Epistles are situational, that is to say, they address specific concerns, issues and problems. Believers are divided about how to handle legal battles, how to rank spiritual gifts, how to deal with marital problems, and how to punish practitioners of certain immoral practices.  In all of these letters, Paul has at least two goals, that is, to preserve harmony and guard unity.  Preserve means to keep alive, make lasting, or to keep safe.  In our Churches we are to keep alive, harmony, or make it lasting and keep it safe.  Guard means to become the warden of, and to keep in custody.  In our Churches we are to become the wardens of unity and to keep unity in custody.  The Executive Minister must keep alive and make lasting harmony in the denomination.  The Executive Minister must also become the warden and keep in custody, unity within the denomination, leading everyone to become fellow workers together with God.  We then are His cultivated field.  It is God who continues to turn the soil over and over. 

At our ABCOTS 47th Annual Session, you are invited to take part in our sessions becoming reacquainted with the broad work of the region and national denomination’s body of work.