A couple of 'stories' in the voice of Chloe exploring aspects of 1 Corinthians 14 and 11...
Good morning! My name is Chloe, I’m part of the church of God at Corinth and I’ve teleported nearly 2000 years to get here!!
It’s so lovely to be with you today – this is a nice comfortable place to meet, you al seem really friendly, and I’d really like to thank you for your welcome, which helped me understand what would be happening, and for this service sheet… It helps me to feel calm and relaxed, ready to worship God – very different my church at home which is, quite frankly chaotic.
Let me tell you a bit about us…
We meet on the evening of the first day of the week, when everyone’s work for the day is done. Well, when I say everyone’s, I should say those who aren’t servants or slaves – often they are delayed to complete tasks assigned late in the day, and it’s not unusual for them to arrive part way through our meeting. Sometimes people have to leave early, and sometimes new people wander in off the streets, curious to see what we are doing.
There is no set order for what we do, and no official leaders, everyone just joins in as they feel led. It’s really exciting and energetic – but sometimes it degenerates into total chaos.
We sing the old psalms, of course, which are lovely. A few weeks ago, Crispus brought us a new hymn he’d written that spoke about Jesus – that was quite radical for us and caused quite a stir. Now it seems everyone is a hymnwriter!
We’re a very diverse congregation, so lots of languages are spoken, which is lovely but not always helpful. Sometimes someone stands up and excitedly shares something and there’s no-one to translate it – we all shuffle our feet in embarrassment not knowing how to respond. I was really grateful when our friend Paul said that people should only speak if there is someone who can translate into the common tongue. By the way, I wish we’d thought to do what you do with the Lord’s Prayer, as you call it – that’s so lovely! Imagine Greek, Aramaic and Latin voices all blended together…
I was really surprised that you only have person bringing a reflection on the scriptures. In our church sometimes several people – mostly men – all talk at once, trying to drown out the voices of the others in order to be heard. We’ve had to learn to take turns to speak – and we’ve had to learn to listen attentively, thinking about what they say and whether it fits with what we know about God and Jesus. Sometimes my head is buzzing with questions and I wish we could stop long enough for me to ask them!
Which brings me on to thorny topic of women in the church! Here in Corinth we allow women to speak in church, so long as they are decently dressed, which for us means wearing a scarf or head covering – we wouldn’t expect the men to speak bare-chested, so it’s only right that we women are modestly dressed too. Of course, some people think we should be silent in the church – and someone even scrawled as much onto the letter Paul sent us!
I love our church in Corinth, there is so much that is exciting and vibrant, so much love to share and so many good people. I also love the chance to be with you today, to learn how church has developed over 2000 years, and to see what I can take back with me to help us as we worship together week by week.
It’s me again, Chloe. I hope you don’t mind me butting in just before you share around the Lord’s table, it’s just that, well it’s so different from how things are in Corinth, and I thought I should explain to why our friend Paul wrote all that stern stuff about eating and drinking condemnation…
As I said earlier, our congregation meets in the courtyard of one of the big houses, and we don’t always all arrive at once. When we break bread, we have a proper meal together, and we tell the story as part of that. Sometimes what happens is that those who get there early are impatient and gobble up the food and drink the wine, so that when those who have to work late finally get there, tired and hungry, there’s nothing left, well maybe a few crusts, but not a proper meal. This is an embarrassment! Not only that, if some of us are delayed and others start eating early, then we dishonour our Lord.
I can see it’s different here. You aren’t having a big dinner together, just some little tastes of bread and juice. You aren’t chatting about all sorts of everyday stuff, you are sitting quietly and thinking about what it all means. And you have made sure that everyone who wants to share is able to do so. I think that you are doing something special. I can go back to Corinth happy knowing that this is our future!