“On the first day of every week, each of you is to put aside and save whatever extra you earn, so that collections need not be taken when I come. . . . If Timothy comes, see that he has nothing to fear among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord just as I am.” (1 Cor 16:2, 10 NRSV)
The thing that strikes me about this section of the book of 1 Corinthians is how ordinary it is. Following a rather exalted discussion of the resurrection, Paul deals with some items of everyday faithfulness. The church in Corinth isn’t the only one that has needed reminding to fulfill their financial obligations and not to be too hard on a young pastor. This is the “stuff of life,” as Rich said in his sermon this week. It reminds me that this stuff was all real—real people dealing with real challenges and opportunities in a gifted but rambunctious congregation.
We sometimes have exalted ideas about the sacredness of Scripture that removes it from everyday life. But evidently God cares about everyday things. Much of the everyday life of a congregation happens behind the scenes by the people who pay the bills, make the phone calls, clean the church, and show up for property care days. Without all these acts of everyday faithfulness, the more noticeable work of Smoky Row Brethren Church—the worship service, the food pantry, the community garden—wouldn’t be possible.
The Corinthians were addicted to showy stuff—exceptional knowledge, eloquent rhetoric, flashy gifts. Some of them were disappointed in Paul because he wasn’t showy enough. We’re not a particularly showy congregation. Although gifted, we tend to be understated rather than flashy. But even we can forget to value the everyday things and honor the people who do them.
Brother Lawrence, a 17th century monk, is known for his little book, The Practice of the Presence of God. He hated washing dishes at his monastery but found that he kept being assigned to that task. His boring and frustrating experience was transformed when he decided to wash dishes with the Lord, recognizing the Lord’s presence and blessing even in such a menial task.
Let’s remind ourselves of the Lord’s presence as we go about our everyday tasks this week. Leave some comments about what you experience!