Surely one of the most frightening and disorienting experiences we can have as human beings is to begin to be aware that we are losing our memory. How do I know who I am, if I’m not sure where I’ve come from? How do I know who I can trust, or who loves me, or who my family members are? Truly, memory is one of God’s most important and most precious gifts to us.
In our first scripture reading this morning, the apostle Paul has some words to say to a group of Christians who were in danger of losing their memory. This reading comes from a letter Paul wrote to the Christians living in the Greek city of Corinth, probably around 58 A.D. In those days, of course, they weren’t meeting in public buildings as we do today; they were probably meeting in small groups in private houses. Those little house churches in Corinth had all sorts of problems, and Paul spends the first fourteen chapters of this letter dealing with them. But in chapter fifteen he comes back to the central issue, and he begins in verse 1 with these words: ‘Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which you also stand’.
If I feel that it’s necessary to remind someone of something, it would usually be because I think they are in danger of forgetting it. For instance, when my youngest son was still living at home I didn’t feel the need to remind him to go out and spend time with his friends, because he never seemed to be in danger of forgetting them! However, I did think it was important to remind him to take his house key with him when he went out, because from time to time he did forget that rather important item, and then he would ring my doorbell at two in the morning so that he could get back into the house! So if Paul feels it necessary to remind the Christians in Corinth about the good news, or gospel, that he proclaimed to them, it must be because he thinks they are in danger of forgetting it.
How could that be? How could a Christian church forget the good news of Jesus Christ, the ‘gospel’ as we call it, which is the central Christian message? Sadly, it happens all the time; churches easily get distracted. They get caught up in the maintenance of old traditions, or they become obsessed with divisive issues like homosexuality, or they get caught up in buildings and liturgies and theological controversies. Individual Christians can forget the gospel as well; in fact, maybe they’ve never even really heard it. I’ve explained the good news of Jesus to hundreds of people down through the years of my ministry, and I’ve stopped being surprised at the number of church people who tell me they’re hearing it for the first time.
So, what is this good news that Paul proclaimed to the Corinthians? Let’s look a little more closely at this; you might like to turn to 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, on page 176 in the New Testament in our church bibles.
Read the rest here.