Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Gifts, Services & Activities

Wednesday, March 5, 2008 -- Week of 4 Lent

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 955)
Psalms 101, 109:1-4(5-19)20-30 (morning) 119:121-144 (evening)
Genesis 50:15-26
1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Mark 8:11-26

There are three words that are very significant in this passage from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. He puts them together in verse 4: "Now there are varieties of gifts, but 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." Gifts (charismata), services (diakoniai) and activities (energemata). These are three ways that God's Spirit is manifested. Paul uses these three words in response to a question about pneumatikoi, literally "spirituals," translated spiritual gifts and spiritual persons.

Tell us about spiritual gifts or spiritual persons, they ask Paul. He tells them about varieties of gifts, services and activities, all from the same source, the Spirit, and all for the same purpose, to serve the common good.

Paul lists some examples, in three sets: (1) wisdom and knowledge; (2) faith, healing and miracles; (3) discernment and interpretation of tongues.

It may be too much order and structure on these words to align "gifts" with wisdom and knowledge; "services" with faith, healing and miracles; and "activities" with discernment and interpretation. But it's pretty.

When we do a workshop on gifts, one of the ways we invite people to discover their own gifts is to ask them about people who are their heroes and heroines. Who are they? What is it about them that you appreciate or admire? Then look at yourself. Do you also have these same traits and characteristics?

We ask about the things that do you do easily? Maybe you don't even think about them, because it's not hard, and you don't have much pride or investment in their doing. But when you finish, you have more energy. It is likely that you are describing your spiritual gifts.

Spiritual gifts are to be used for the common good. That is central to Paul's teaching. He uses the word "services", from which we get the word "deacon." And the word for activities resembles our English word "energy." Energy in service. That's the way the gifts of the Spirit are best exercised.

It is worth a bit of time to try to identify and claim your own gifts. Usually our best work happens when we are energizing our gifts in service. Paul imagines the community of the church as a collection of people who offer their gifts from the one Spirit in energetic service for the common good.

That's what I want in our church. Energetic people freed and authorized to use their gifts to serve the common good. That sounds like the description of an alive and vital congregation or even an alive and vital nation.

Lowell
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Audio podcast: Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week. Click the following link: Morning Reflection Podcasts

About Morning Reflections
Morning Reflections is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.


Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117

An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at www.missionstclare.com
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html


The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

Visit our web site at www.stpaulsfay.org

Our Rule of Life
We aspire to...
worship weekly
pray daily
learn constantly
serve joyfully
live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas

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