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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

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Paul's congregation in Corinth was a fractured group. If you've ever been part of a church family experiencing dissension or division, know you're in good company. This letter is Paul's appeal for unity. Like Nehemiah in this week's Old Testament lesson, Paul will call God's people back to the basics. He'll preach that more unites them than divides them. He'll remind them of their baptism, that they are all brothers and sisters--one in the Spirit, one in the Lord, one in mission. He'll tell them that this is Christ's church, where there is a place for everybody--no exceptions. All are welcome.

Paul reminds us that we are the body of Christ, that we all have gifts. We celebrate this unity in diversity. We acknowledge that at the foot of the cross we are all the same. There God gives us one another; we need each other, and we can always do far more together than alone.

O God, may your Spirit move every human heart, that the barriers dividing us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease, and that, with our divisions healed, we might live in justice and peace. Amen. (adapted from ELW prayers)

Wolfgang W. Laudert, '11
Pastor, Christ Lutheran Church, Staten Island, N.Y.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31a (NRSV)

12 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.

This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.