Monday, 31 October 2011

telling letters - Paul to the Corinthians, one in the Spirit

1 Corinthians 12:4-13 

Now there are varieties of gifts, but (I paused here, it felt right to do so - what does that tell me? I was perhaps drawing attention to the fact that it is the same Spirit) the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. after I had been rehearsing this for a while, I suddenly began to put stress on 'all' and 'every'one. I had been finding it difficult to decide where to place the stress in this phrase without making it feel as though Paul is saying that everyone has every gift activated within them ...  

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. I gestured here to random points around the room for 'each', and swept my hands up from my sides for 'common good'. Also, I smiled with common good - to lift here, because this is joyful, our common humanity. 
To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. I started this part slower, and gradually picked up the pace through the list, by 'interpretation of tongues', giving the feeling that the list could go on because these are all examples, not an exhaustive list, of gifts. 
All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses. I reversed the gestures from above here - hands up from the sides with 'all these' and indicating random points in the room for 'to each.' 

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. I wanted to gesture here, but found nothing worked successfully without feeling odd about drawing attention to my body, which felt like an uneasiness because I am a woman. This bears more reflection. 

For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. here I repeated the cup gesture from the portion from 2 Corinthians for 'drink of one Spirit,' and I paused here for a moment or two, to hold our attention on our oneness in the Spirit of Christ, which felt like the heart of Paul's message here. 


Sue said...

Reflection on the body: I think as a woman, it is good to use our body...what would it have meant to have gestured your body ...a challenge to the males present to consider the body in a different way. Would it have empowered woman's bodies? It would have empowered mine - made in the image of God.

sarah said...

Thanks Sue.
It's always an engaging struggle, how much I feel I can challenge the listeners into a discomfort that will be productive, before we reach a level of discomfort that results in a switching off ...
I am grateful for your comments, which I am sure will shape how I tell the letters of Paul with his body metaphor in future. You may just have given me courage to push the boundaries - mine and those of the audiences - a little further!