by Colleen Fitzpatrick
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I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:4).
My mother was a great letter writer – actually, she typed all of her letters, which was a huge relief because this meant that people could read them. My parents married in the middle of the last century, and at that time, Mum moved from Victoria to New South Wales, leaving her mother and five siblings and their families behind. Mum and her family corresponded regularly, and I remember her reading out the letters she received to us all as we sat around the table, listening to the family news. I’m sure these letters were a great comfort to Mum as they ensured she retained contact with her family.
Paul was also a great letter writer, and I wonder how his letters were received. Were they eagerly anticipated? If there was dissension in a congregation, was there wariness when it was known a letter had arrived? The church was young when Paul was writing, and his letters were important in the formation of the church at that time.
After greeting the Corinthians, Paul goes on to give thanks for them. His message provides a clear affirmation of God’s grace and all he has done for them through Jesus. It seems Paul is thankful for every one of them. He provides quite a list of reasons.
How often do we give thanks to the members of our worshipping community? Many people play vital roles in any church community – the pastor, the church secretary/office staff, the treasurer, those who count the collection, pastoral carers, musicians, visual artists. Also, those who maintain the property, cleaners, welcomers and people who provide hospitality (morning tea, lunch). And those who prepare the PowerPoint slides and operate the technology, ushers, Holy Communion servitors, cantors, lay readers, website managers and anyone else I have forgotten. There are others too whose contribution is less visible: the faithful ones who quietly visit or drop off cakes and casseroles where needed, those who phone to check up on the sick ones or frail ones, the quiet encouragers. Whew! That’s quite a list!
What better time to give thanks for our community than when we kneel at the altar to receive Christ’s body and blood.
Gracious God, thank you for the community in which we worship where we hear of your grace. Thank you for those who faithfully serve us within the community, and thank you for the opportunities we have to serve others. Amen.