Sharing Your Gifts in Love

Gifts shared in loving communion

We are all a part of some team, some larger body – 

Whether you are part of a church or a family or a friend group or a workplace or a partnership, 

You are on a team that must work together. 

Being a part of a team brings common challenges: 

Jealousy, misunderstandings, conflict of ideas or personalities. 

Our scripture this morning is a letter Paul wrote to the early church in Corinth.   

The Corinthians were trying to figure out how to be holy people in the ancient world 

And were a community with a fair amount of conflict.  

The Corinthians thought the gift of speaking in tongues was particularly awesome. 

If you could speak in tongues, the rest of the church would beam in pride, greet you enthusiastically at the door, and listen to what you had to say.  

The Corinthians so valued the gift of speaking in tongues, that they were starting to devalue other gifts.  

Perhaps there has been a time when you felt your gifts were not fully valued,  

So let us listen to what he has to say. 

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 

If Jerry would say, “because I am not a dancer, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make him any less a part of the body. 

And if I were to say, “because I am not a singer, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make me any less a part of the body. 

And if Louise were to say, “because I am not a preacher, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make her any less a part of the body. 

And if you say, “I am sick and cannot do what I want to do,” that does not make you any less a part of the body. 

And if you say, “I don’t read the Bible every day or exercise every day,” that does not make you any less a part of the body.  

And if you say, “I can’t read very well at all,” that does not make you any less a part of the body. 

And if you say, “I don’t know the social cues yet and I stand when I should sit,” that does not make you any less a part of the body. 

And if you say, “I don’t agree with so-and-so on politics or doctrine or how to raise children,” that does not make you any less a part of the body. 

You are a part of the body.  

PAUSE.  

18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 

You are a part of the body.  

Each member carefully chosen. 

Each member with a gift to share.  

PAUSE.  

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. 

Paul uses a popular Greco-Roman metaphor: the body.   

In the Greco-Roman world, society as a whole was seen as the body, with the elites at the head, ruling the rest of the body.   

Paul twists this metaphor to a distinctly Christian understanding:  

Christ is the head and the body is governed by mutuality, not hierarchy.  

Mutuality, not hierarchy, in church, in relationships, in community.  

Each has an important and vital role – each is to be valued.  

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 

Each has a gift and a role, a special place. 

In church, today the usher will welcome and collect prayers,  

deaconesses will divide flowers for delivery to homebound members,  

deacons will serve Communion.  

At home, one family member cleans, another does finances.  

In my home CJ does the technology and it doesn’t work well when I try. 

To belong to the body of Christ is to respect and honor the gifts and roles of others. 

Attempts to “do it all” serves our egos, but it does not serve God.  

By doing it all or doing the role of another,  

we diminish their God-given place and neglect our own. 

After naming many types of gifts and specific roles, Paul continues: 

31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way. 

What are the “greater gifts”? Paul answers in the very next line, with our second scripture. 

13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing….13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (CINDY can be seated) 

The “greater gifts” is, in fact, the gift of love.   

Love is the gift that infuses and informs all the others. 

All spiritual gifts spread love AND are given in love. 

We each have unique and special gifts (hold up heart),  

but how we share the gift is as important if not more so than the gifts itself. 

If you have the gift of insight,  

but share your insights with condescending yelling,  

your gift will fall on broken hearts. 

If you have the gift of foresight and planning,  

but share your schedule with accusations and belittling,  

your gift will be ignored. 

How we share our gifts is just as important as the gifts themselves. 

So our gifts are written on hearts because spiritual gifts not only spread love. 

Spiritual gifts are also given in love. 

Communion is a means to share our gifts in love. 

Ozlem Cekic was the first Muslim, immigrant woman to serve in the legislature in Denmark. 

She had a gift for leadership and insights about the country. 

Sadly she received hate mail admonishing her to step down: we don’t need you! They cried.  

Like many, her instinct was to hide  

– but with a push from a friend, she chose a “communion” of sorts 

She reached out and met with those who wrote the hate mail.  

She was practicing “everyday communion” – 

Not the Christian sacrament, but the spiritual practice underlining Communion.  

As we sit beside one another at the Communion table, 

Ozlem sat beside those who wrote her hate mail. 

This act of mutuality is key to sharing our gifts in loving communion.  

My gift will not take up all the space or overpower others. 

When I share my insight, I share it and then allow space for others to share theirs. 

Our gifts will sit beside each other: 

In worship those with the gift of song sing for a time, those with a gift for preaching speak for a time, those with a gift for dance dance for a time …no one gift dominates the entire service.  

When we share our gifts in loving Communion, we sit beside one another sharing the space.   

Olzem not only sat beside those who sent her hate mail, 

She trusted them enough to meet in their own home. 

Talk about trust and courage! 

Trust is key to sharing our gifts in loving communion.  

Just as we trust in God’s presence when we come to the communion table, 

To share our gifts in loving communion,  

we need to trust that the holy is present in the other. 

And we need to trust the holy is present within us.  

 

Communion is a means to share our gifts in love.  

We share our gifts in love in mutuality, side by side; 

We share our gifts in love by trusting God is present within us and others,  

We share our gifts in love by honoring the unique place each one has.  

So let us share our gifts at the Communion Table. 

You are invited to bring forward your heart and put it on the Communion table  

As a symbol of your willingness to share your gifts in loving communion.  

Sharing our spiritual gifts in love is a great offering to God. 

Let us have the courage and faith to share!

Sharing our spiritual gifts in love is a great offering to God. 

Let us have the courage and faith to share!

Gifts shared in loving communion

Listen to the story about Olzem Cekin here.

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