I love maps and I’m intrigued by place names. Often names tell you something. For example, it is not for nothing that the MacIntosh tearoom on Sauchiehall Street is called the Willow Tea Room given Sauchiehall means field or meadow of willow trees.
For years Gleneagles puzzled me, as the surrounding countryside does not seem to be the natural habitat of eagles. However, Gleneagles does not mean glen of the eagles as the eagles of this placename is a corruption of the Scots Gaelic word eagalis = church. Kirk, the word we perhaps think of as being Scots for church, has its roots in Norse/Germanic languages, whereas eagalis is a corruption, via Latin, of the word used for Church in our New Testaments, ekklesia.
The ekklesia of God
All of this is a preamble to say that this Sunday we will not be thinking about place names, but about what it means to be the ekklesia of God. To help us do this we will zone in on Paul’s words to the church in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 14, 1- 4, 18 – 20, 26.
Each one has …
I am struck by the phrase in verse 26, “When you come together, each one has …”. This verse powerfully reminds us that when we “gather” as church we come not just to receive but to give; to offer to God and to each other that which we have. It makes me think of a Mennonite barn-raising, which is what the picture above is of. When a new farm or church building is needed everyone turns up, everyone contributes, whether that is making and serving cooling lemonade or building roof trusses.
1 Corinthians 14 is all about building up – not in terms of growth / adding bums on seats – but in terms of strengthening and deepening our allegiance to Jesus, our faithfulness in following Him.
I wonder what questions this raises in your mind? As you read 1 Corinthians 14 in preparation for Sunday, perhaps you want to personally reflect on how you are building up the church, what is it that you bring/contribute?
I recognise that this is a challenging question during this period where gathering is restricted and what we can do is restricted. I can think of one person who brings their all in singing during worship. They sing a little out of tune, but their singing, their enthusiasm, their love for God that shines through builds me up …they sing to build up the church! I look forward to when they can build the church up in this way again.
Showing up as Spiritual Warfare
We can also build up the church just by showing up (Heb 10:25). I am built up each week as I see you greet each other in the Chat on QPLive. I am built up when I am in-person at Camphill, or our new All-in service, by the presence of other people who resist the powers of this age and visibly show their dependence on God by coming to worship. Yes …going to church is an act of spiritual warfare! It is a stepping into our freedom in Christ (freedom from the powers of this age), it is an act of rejecting the idols of our culture (I deserve that easy like a Sunday morning moment) as we identify ourselves as belonging to God.
Share your thoughts
There are also question which in answering we can build each other up, so it would be good to share your thoughts on these in the Live Chat.
- How do we find out what it is that we have to contribute/give?
- How do we create a Godly culture of honouring all contributions that are in line with what the Spirit is doing?
We are all in this together, God’s Spirit has been poured upon us all, we all have something to contribute.