Friday, May 20, 2011

Choose Which Table to Covenant With

I'm preaching this Sunday morning (5/22/11) out of 1 Corinthians 10:14-22. I read and re-read and re-read the text. I meditate on the text. I study the text. I listen for God's voice, for his leading.

In addition to looking at the Greek text I am using these commentaries for 1 Corinthians. Not all commentaries are equal. I use, for by far the most part, no older commentaries, because our biblical knowledge is deepening, especially socio-cultural and socio-rhetorical studies.

I want to preach, as much as possible, "for everyone" who comes on Sunday mornings. And I want to take the people to a deeper place than they have been before. Hopefully this happens. One reason I think it does is that, week after week of preaching this way, I am consistently taken into deeper and new places, theologically and spiritually, that I have never been before. It always feels very fresh to me. I don't warm up old sermons. Even in my early years of preaching, when computers did not exist and all we had were things called "typewriters," I threw my sermons away after preaching them. I felt God tell me to do that. God wanted me to struggle with the text all over again, and be renewed in the struggle.

Today, in terms of this text, 1 Cor. 10:14-22, I am thinking that...
  • I will make a distinction between "participation" (koinonia) and "partaking" (metechein).
  • I'll re-explain "covenant" - God as a covenant God, a covenant-making God. This is precisely why, in God's eyes, there's no such thing as "casual sex," and there's no such thing as "casual worship." I want my people to understand this, to know this in new ways this Sunday.
  • It then becomes danger and absurd to covenant (participate) in God (the Lord's Table) and in pagan deities.
  • Of course pagan "gods" are not real. Paul acknowledges this. But demons are. So I'll say something about demons. FYI: I believe in the demonic realm. My belief in demons is part of the logic of the noetic framework that has captured me. Personally I remain uninterested in any theology that demythologizes the demonic and supernatural. And yes I have studied Bultmann and Tillich, and their Heideggarian and Humean roots.
  • I will say more about "participation" in relation to the Lord's Supper. This is a "wow" time for me, having been raised in a Lutheran church that emphasized such participation, rejected it for a symbolic interpretation, and am now back to a more participatory understanding. Why? Textual studies. It's like I'm hearing Paul's words in 1 Corinthians re. the Lord's Table for the first time.
  • We'll gather around the Lord's Table at Redeemer on Sunday. we will "partake" of the common loaf of bread (take a part of it), and "participate" in Christ (this is shared, abiding, indwelling covenant-language). I am expecting good, God-things to happen! (And, I fully expect to have survived the false J-Day scare.)