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Pastoral Letter - February 3, 2021

Lamp of Wisdom, Waterperry Gardens, Oxfordshire

I, along with a few others from Incarnation, have been taking a Race Literacy course through Little Lights in Washington, DC and each week we’re reminded of the ground rules for discussion. We’re asked to -

1. Listen actively -- respect others when they are talking.

2. Participate to the fullest of your ability -- community growth depends on the inclusion of every individual voice.

3. Prioritize typically marginalized people’s narratives.

4. Do not be afraid to respectfully challenge one another by asking questions, but refrain from personal attacks -- focus on ideas.

And it has struck me over the past few weeks that this might be a good way to approach our study of I Corinthians. As Amy said in her homily on Sunday, some us come to the writings of Paul with some woundedness and confusion, which makes it hard for us to listen to the words of Paul with openness. And yet, because they are God’s word for us, we feel compelled to try to wrestle to understand them. But in order to wrestle well with Paul’s writings, I have found it helpful to read outside my comfort zone; to read authors that I might not necessarily end up agreeing with, but who challenge my assumptions and force me to work out what I think Paul is saying to us.

And I suppose that’s how we are approaching our small groups as well. We assume that each group member has something to contribute to our understanding and response to the teachings in I Corinthians, if only we can make space to hear everyone’s perspective and experiences, even if they sometimes make us uncomfortable. The ground rule above that I find most challenging, is to refrain from making assumptions and jumping to conclusions, and to instead respect the other person enough to ask them good, thoughtful questions about their convictions.

And so my prayer for us this week is that we would be servants of all, humbly laboring alongside our fellow servants of Christ to faithfully understand and act upon God’s instructions to his church in I Corinthians. When we are reviled, may we choose to bless and when we are slandered, may we continue to speak kindly to one another so that we might, altogether, be commended for our work on that day when the Lord returns. (I Cor. 4:5,12)

May our little lights continue to shine.



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