Kirkepiscatoid

Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

Wallace's sermon this week was kind of a hybrid between the week's Gospel (Luke 4:21-30) and the 2nd reading (I Corinthians 13:1-13) and I was grateful it was not exactly a re-hash of of what I call "The cheezy version of I Corinthians 13 you usually hear at weddings." At this point in my life, I realize there is a point that at some poor soul's wedding, when I hear the cheezy wedding version of I Corinthians 13 I will break out into a sweat, jump up, start ripping up the flowers and yell, "AAAAAGH! Stop it! I can't take this any longer!" (Ok, so you've figured out I am long past the pheremone-induced wedding gobbledygook.)

Sometimes, I am caught up in the enigmatic issues surrounding Paul's writings. Paul is a hard dude to figure out. There are times when I read Paul's letters (particularly the more "preachy" parts) that I think the guy is a smug, holier-than-thou total ass. There's no doubt in more modern theology, and in the more feminist-friendly aspects of the ECUSA, that Paul is not looked upon with great fondness. He is definitely not the favorite Biblical character among the women at Trinity in Kirksville, that's for sure.

(That reminds me of one of the more famous "Trinity bloopers." A female member of our church, who had just left her abusive husband, got stuck with the "Wives be subject to your husbands" reading when her turn in the barrel for lector came around. She just sort of stopped in the middle of the reading and burst out laughing. It was definitely a golden moment in the history of our church!)

But to really figure out Paul, I think you have to step away from the modern world a bit and try to envision his life and how it fits into the early Church. For starters, he's still very very Jewish, despite his conversion. Some of that is simply ingrained into his identity. He can't help it any more than I can help still feeling that little Martin Luther sitting on my shoulder despite the fact I am now a committed Episcopalian. Most of his tirades have to do with bits of behavior that would be considered "flouting Noahide and Mosaic law." That law still sits on his shoulder and always will to some degree. I think back to something I learned in my college sociology class: "The shortest time that real sociologic change takes to happen is at least 3 generations." The first generation in the change process can't change much. They can change a little (Think of those immigrant grandparents from "the old country" no matter WHICH country it is.) The 2nd generation is in a state of flux; then hopefully, by the time change occurs in that 3rd generation, the 1st generation is dying off and few are there to tell it first-hand; the 3rd generation may well have no real understanding that the problem that induced the change ever existed.

But back to Paul. The early church is going through TONS of growing pains. It's not exactly like at the moment of Jesus' death, copies of the liturgy fell out of the sky. Everyone still has some degree of identity of "who they were and who they still are". The early church is struggling through all the culture differences by which its members still identify with to some degree, including how to worship and how to behave. Meanwhile, Paul is trying to navigate the early church through this morass. Some of these things simply grate on his Jewish sensibilities, despite his becoming a Christian.

Meanwhile, I have to think that Christ's followers of that era were kind of thinking Jesus was coming sooner rather than later. Some probably are wondering why he hasn't returned yet. They are having doubts and fears that maybe that Jesus guy was an imposter. At times, it probably seemed that it didn't look like this new religion is going anywhere. People are nervous about it. Paul is nervous about it. In some cities it appears to be blowing apart at the seams.

Paul has a lot on his plate. He's trying to keep it all together in all these cities. It has to be exasperating. He gets tossed into prison. Prison does something to you, and some of it is not pretty. I could see where all of this could make a fellow prone to temper outbursts...and sometimes, I wonder if the more preachy parts of Paul's letters are simply fits of exasperation caught in writing. Maybe he didn't follow the Harry Truman method of holding his more fiery letters till the next morning (even Harry didn't follow his own advice all the time). Maybe it's like the day at my place at work where the employess carping at each other made me holler out in utter frustration that I was going to put Premarin in the water. Paul is having to adjust to it all himself. It just can't be easy.

But somewhere deep within him is this complete and utterly joyful love he has for all of the members of the church, no matter how strange and difficult they all seem at times; he's trying to impart that love on the members of the early Church...and to me, that is the root of the "love chapter," not the sappy wedding bell version I've come to loathe. Paul may have a second sight on this given the fact he's single. Sometimes, I think when you're married, you are so wrapped up in your partner or your family you may not always see the big picture in this regard. Single people have love to give that isn't being fulfilled in a partnership so they can see and feel more intense love to their extended family. It's a trade off. But the positive aspects of Paul' life get lost in all the shuffle. Yet he still has the guts to hold this new church together somehow, and that somehow creates love. What a concept!

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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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