Third Sunday After the Epiphany 2019, Year C — Faith Formation
Greater Gifts Worship Series, Week 3 - Being Needy
January 27, 2019
Week 3 — Being Needy
Fellowship – Snacks or a Meal (10 minutes with snacks; longer, obviously, if there is a meal)
Gathering Time (5-10 minutes)
In pairs or groups of three, answer the question, “Who was/is the most ‘needy’ person you have ever met? What made that person needy?”
Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes)
Opening: Have participants report on using their gifts during the past week.
Read: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
- Ask participants if they agree or disagree with the following statements (in general). Why or why not?
- Adults don’t like to ask for help.
- Adults are uncomfortable with being vulnerable with others.
- Adults need others to thrive.
- Adults like to think they can provide for themselves without the help of others.
- What point do you think Paul might be making by listing the “various kinds of tongues” last in his list of gifts (verses 28)? [Downplay their importance.]
- Paul observes that some gifts seem to have more “honor” than others (see note below “I have no need of you”). Which gifts are more esteemed or respected in your church? Which gifts are likely to be underappreciated?
- Paul is writing to an ethnically diverse group in Corinth. There would also have been clear status divisions in the society between the freed men and the slaves. How do you think this church (or likely groups of churches) would have received verse 13? What are the implications for the church today?
- (R) Are we needier than we like to admit? (See note below on the Trinity.)
- (R) How might the American virtue of being independent be in conflict with the Christian value of being interdependent? Why do you think being needy is frowned upon by our society? Is being needy always wrong?
(Option A) Express your gratitude verbally or even take a small token of appreciation to a church staff person or ministry leader that you think might be underappreciated.
(Option B) Allow someone to serve you (someone who does not get paid for the service). How does it feel? Why does being the recipient of other people’s service make us uncomfortable?
“I have no need of you.”
Paul continues, as we saw last week, lowering those who feel religiously superior and highlighting the need for diversity. Paul adds to that the vice of self-sufficiency, which has no place in the community of believers. The supposedly religiously superior cannot simply say that others are dispensable. Paul probably has in mind body parts that were viewed as weak (internal organs – perhaps how we think of the appendix today) by using the analogy of the “indispensable members of the body” (12:22), “less honorable,” or “less respectable” (12:23). However unnecessary or “less” they seem, Paul’s point is that, in fact, they are needed for the body to function in a healthy way. So it is true with the church. The church is an interdependent group that needs the variety of gifts and participation of all members to be fully healthy.
The Bible never explicitly states a doctrine of the Trinity. However, we do see the Trinity hinted at, such as, in chapter 12 of I Corinthians, especially in verses 3-6. Despite the lack of an explicit statement, throughout Scripture we see the work of salvation through the Father sending the Son, the Son obedient to and glorifying the Father, and the Holy Spirit continuing the work of the Risen Messiah. Each of the three persons of the Trinity glorifies the other person. In the Trinity, we see that oneness is not singular and that three are not separate. Rather than three separate, autonomous persons, the Trinity reveals mutuality and interdependence are part of personhood. How we understand personhood should originate from our doctrine of God and not other voices that champion autonomy and individuality as the defining characteristics of personhood.
Prayer (10 minutes). Share prayer requests and respond appropriately. Have participants take turns speaking to another member of the group and completing this sentence, “I appreciate you and need you because…” Alternatively, taking one participant at a time, have several members of the group finish the sentence, “We appreciate you and need you because…”
Sending Forth (2 minutes). End by praying the following or similar prayer:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you have given us more than we can ask or imagine. One of your gifts to us is the church. We thank you for those who have supported us, nurtured us, encouraged us, and challenged us. Lord, it is all too apparent of our need for your grace and mercy. Humble us, that we might also see our need for one another. Amen.
Week 3: Third Sunday After the Epiphany – January 27, 2019: Being Needy
1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
“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. 13 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. 14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot would say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear would say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ 22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24 whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25 that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But strive for the greater gifts.”
Our verse for today is from the first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 18: “But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as God chose.”
Let’s think about what this means.
- God is working in each person’s life.
- God has called each of us to be part of this congregation.
- People who are young, and old, and all the ages in between are included here.
- Every person is an important part of the church. We need one another.
- God wants us to share our faith, hope, and love of Jesus together.
- We are all called to support the church with our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.
Dear God, thank you for drawing us closer to you through the worship and fellowship of this church. We are so glad that each person is precious to you. Send your Holy Spirit to help us grow stronger in faith and share your kindness with others. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.