April 9, 2009

APRIL 9 – THE ONE

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By Skip Barnett, international student advisor and associate professor of English
SCRIPTURE: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (NRSV) Scroll down for complete Scripture.

DEVOTIONAL: Today is known as Maundy Thursday, the day Christians remember the very first communion when Jesus enacted the bread and wine ceremony that symbolized God’s love for fallen humankind.

Thus, it is fitting that today’s reading should be a statement of the bare bones Gospel message, the essential premise of salvation which is “of first importance”: a) God loves us so much that, in Christ, he even died in our place and b) God can not be defeated, not even by death.

Paul says this is “Good News”; what an understatement! But why is this old story such “Good News” for us, even today? It shows the absolute lengths God has gone to, and continues to go to, in order to save us, his dangerously confused and willfully dysfunctional children. God continues to reach out to us, all of us. There is hope for us — we are precious to our Maker and are not rejected. Furthermore, not even our most slovenly or hateful acts can ultimately defeat God’s good purpose for creation. If Christ was able to overcome death then what can defeat him?

Taken together, these twin pillars give us great confidence and strength for living into Christ’s way for us. Even if, as Paul says of himself, we recognize our personal “unfitness” as believers, we can realize that it is really God’s own mercy and power — God’s “grace” as shown by Christ’s death and resurrection — that make it possible for us to live healthy lives, and even to be lights and helping hands for others. The One who has the power to die for others and even to come back from the dead is the One who is working in us for the good of all.

This is joyous, empowering news!

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SCRIPTURE: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (NRSV)

Now I should remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you — unless you have come to believe in vain.

For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to someone untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace towards me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them — though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.

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Comments (3)

  1. Thank you for reminding us of this joyous, empowering news! A good way to start Maundy Thursday.

    Mary K. Mishler April 9, 2009 |
  2. Thank-you so much for this succint and clear message of salvation that even a young child can appreciate. In my faith nurture ministry for Mennonite Church Canada, I write At-Home devotional booklets for families, and the clear wisdom in this reflection will find its way into my nest page on Maundy Thursday. However, the good news of this passage also speaks to my middle aged reality. Blessings on you and Goshen College for providing this ministry which draws us nearer to each other and helps us realise God’s nearness and activity in our lives. Shalom.

    Elsie Rempel April 9, 2009 |
  3. Thank you, Skip!
    Sometimes these days it is hard to take the long view, and to see beyond the many imperfections and failures of our present world and situations. Part of the beauty of the Christian community is the function of reminding each other of these enduring truths. You did that beautifully, and I find that very helpful.

    Mary Ellen Meyer April 9, 2009 |