May 07, 2020
Preacher: Rev. Anne J. Scalfaro
Title: Commonality & Conflict (from 1st century Corinth to 21st century COVID)
Scripture: Acts 18:1-4 & 1 Corinthians 1:10-18
This week we turn to the formation of the church in Corinth. Based on the letters we have from the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians, we know they struggled with internal conflict. A lot. Before we get to the conflict though, the Narrative Lectionary reminds us to read Acts 18:1-4 and remember that the church at Corinth began with a commonality. When Paul first came to Corinth he chose to stay with Aquila and Priscilla because they all shared in the same trade (tentmaking) and they worked together. We don’t know all of what happens between Acts 18 and 1 Corinthians 1, but what we do know is that people have lost sight of what unites them together. They are focused more on their differences than on their common faith and purpose.
In this time of COVID-19, we have seen a lot of focus around unity and being together as we make our way through this global pandemic. However, the longer it lasts, the more divisions and disagreements we see, especially around testing and tracing and when cities and states should open up and what is more important – the economy or public health, and even about how communities of color are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus. The divisions are not just within our nation, they are within Christianity as well. We’ve seen some churches protesting that their right to gather and worship is being infringed upon with Stay at Home orders. Other churches are advocating for staying home to better “love our neighbor” and protect the vulnerable. And the conflict doesn’t stop there…it gets more personal. You may even be experiencing more disagreements and stress within your own family as we are all spending A LOT more time together than we are used to. Conflict is a normal experience. What matters is what we do with it.
As we live through this pandemic, we are all experiencing it for the first time together; which means that we are all having different emotional reactions to it and we all have different ideas about the best way to make our way through it. This Sunday, as we look back to the church at Corinth, we will remember its origins – how it was founded – and who it was founded around. And then we’ll see what lessons we can learn today about staying together through stressful times from their experiences as early Christians.