Religion column: Let us keep the feast
By Fr. Jonathan Filkins
The Christian Apostle, Saint Paul, was regularly charged with the sentiments and actions of the early Church. Without our methodologies of instant communication and travel, we may wrestle with our understanding of the depredations and challenges of his day. With the diverse and expansive locations of Believers, oversight was quite difficult. No wonder why these visits often lasted months, as there was much to address and great distances to accomplish.
Of particular challenge was the Church at Corinth. These Corinthians readily adopted the vagaries of the times; as well as some of the panoply of beliefs of the Roman Empire. Yet, as they, we too are a product of our own societal winds and vagaries. We too find a veritable smorgasbord of theological delights laid out before us.
Gone are all of the Apostles and the nagging presence of Saint Paul. In the intervening years, some 800 generations have come and gone; with some designing to dilute the efficacy, if not the true meaning, of the Word. Various trappings have come and gone; some created by the guise of “God spoke to me and said…’ For the Faithful, it is not a great intellectual exercise to acknowledge these changes which have occurred, nor is it much of an exercise to understand we are affected by these changes.
Many of us practice their Christian Faith, as was set before us. The Scots tend to be Presbyterian; the Irish, Italian, and Latino tend to be Roman Catholic. Our African and American brethren lean towards the Baptist and Pentecostal. The Scandinavians have a predilection towards Luther and the English towards Anglicanism.
Each of the aforementioned espouses beliefs most particular to their practices of worship; coupled with their creeds. When asked, “Why do you practice your beliefs in the ______ church?” the reply is often centered around habit, history, the people, or simply the building which the church occupies. When tasked with such a question, we must acknowledge how uncomfortable this makes us feel. Much of the time, we practice our diverging Christian faiths with an embrace in the comfortable. We simply are not willing to take ourselves away from the familiar; most particularly with our worship and theology.
So, what if we have all got it wrong; in our beliefs and practices? What if some of us are right and of us some are wrong? What if all of us have got it right; no matter what we believe?
The idea of error, in our beliefs, is a sobering thought. The potential exists for us to commit some repetitive deviation from what we have been called to do; in violation of God’s Holy Word. Humankind’s insistence upon meddling with God’s truths, has such an obvious proclivity to do so.
Saint Paul’s gentle directive to the Corinthians, encourages them to keep their supper; their communion, their worship, with God, through Jesus Christ. And, he goes on, to encourage them to throw out the old leaven and begin with the new. Gone are all of the trappings of the Roman Empire, the polytheism of Greece and the Law of the Old Testament. In its stead is the new Faith, the new Covenant with God’s Creation. The current source, of the leavening provision, is the Holy Spirit. Rather than Saint Paul, who did not know this active part of God, this is our source for a new life, each day. How wonderful to greet Him each day!
We are called to discard the old leaven of days’ past and examine what practices we shall begin the solid replacement of the new. Let us not tarry from the invitation, Indeed, let us keep the feast; before us time is short. Let us always keep the feast, with Him, and believe in His perpetual understanding and grace.