The most divisive issue faced by the Early Church was this: Who is welcome? Who is welcome to receive God’s Love in Christ and, therefore, welcome in the community called the Church? Specifically, was the Church open only to Jewish Christians? Or was it also open to Gentile (non-Jewish) Christians?
The Council of Jerusalem resolved that issue in 50 A.D. (You can read their decision in Acts 15.) Unfortunately, the issue of who is welcome has continued to plague the Church.
Paul addresses the issue of welcome in our scripture for this week (1 Corinthians 11:17-26).
When you read the passage, you will notice that something weird is happening. When the church gathered for the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion), “some went hungry and others got drunk” (verse 21).
What is going on?
You may recall that for the first several hundred years of the Christian faith, Holy Communion was usually served as part of what we might call a potluck supper. As the congregation gathered around the table for dinner, they remembered Jesus’ last supper with his disciples and shared in Holy Communion with one another. Apparently, some people got all the good stuff, while others left the table hungry.
As you prepare for worship this week, pray about these questions:
- What might such behavior have done within the Corinthian congregation?
- How was it an issue of welcome and hospitality?
- If we took Paul’s guidance to the church in Corinth seriously, how might it shape how we live as a church called Oak Hill?
For a deeper understanding of the matter, click here to download the study guide.