Dear Cathedral Family,
During this Epiphany season in our Sunday lectionary we will read several passages from Paul’s Letters to the Corinthians. As I mentioned last Sunday, the New Testament scholar Richard Hays reminds us that in reading Paul we are “reading someone else’s mail”—but it is mail that is also, divinely and mysteriously, addressed to us.
Last week Paul explained that various spiritual gifts are given by the one Spirit for the good of all, meant to draw together in unity the body made up of diverse members—and to point to the presence of God in all things. This week, we will read the rest of this passage, in which Paul writes about the dependence of each member on all the others. These are fitting readings for the moment, as this is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Unity seems to be a rare commodity in our world right now, and it is good for us to be reminded that the Church is meant to be a source of unity and healing for our world.
Christ Church has a long history of strong ecumenical relationships in downtown Mobile, going back to our founding in 1822 as a “Union Church” for all the Protestant denominations in Mobile. We also have a long history of interfaith relationships with the Jewish congregations of Mobile.
This week provides us with an opportunity to engage both ecumenical and interfaith relationships as Christ Church Cathedral partners with several local congregations, organizations and individuals to sponsor an evening of discussion with Mark Oppenheimer, author of “Squirrel Hill: The Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting and the Soul of a Neighborhood.” This interview with the author explains both the incident and the writing of this book. You will find more information about the event at this website.
Sudden acts of violence in American life, often directed toward religious communities, are now grimly familiar. We have seen it again this past week in the hostage situation at the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas.
As Christians, we are called not only to unity within our own body but with the whole of God’s people. Paul indicates in 1 Corinthians 12 that the Corinthian Christians, who were once pagans (“Gentiles” is the word he uses in Greek), have been gathered into the whole people who are loved by and who serve the living God of Israel. As we “read their mail,” we are reminded that we are those people, too—called from a life of separation, fear, and violence into a life of unity and service.