Let Us Celebrate the Festival

Jerusalem at night, from the roof of the Church of the Nazarene in the old city. 



Scripture:

1Cor. 5:6   Your boasting is not a good thing. Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 7 Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch, as you really are unleavened. For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Observation:

Paul is addressing a very serious issue in the church at Corinth. There was a member of the faith community who was engaging in immoral acts that were beyond that of the pagans. However, the man may have been wealthy or powerful and therefore, his actions were simply brushed under the rug and ignored. The people were proud to have this man as a part of their community, and this was leading to arrogance among those who were a part of the church. 

Suddenly, Paul shifts to another image: that of the Paschal lamb. Just as the Israelites had prepared for the passover by ridding their households of the leavened bread, so the church was seen as the new batch of dough. The church has been made new, or unleavened by the slaying of the Passover lamb. It is the sacrifice on the cross that makes it possible for humanity to make the transition from the old life into the new. The old life is tainted with the leaven, which, if allowed to remain will transform all the remaining bread. When the church turns a blind eye to the indiscretions of those who are wealthy or powerful, there will be great spiritual loss. 

Application:

We have just had a blessed time celebrating Easter. Yesterday, many of us will have gone to church and responded with gusto when the pastor called out, “He is risen!” with “He is risen, indeed!” On many levels we want to embrace this Jesus, the Messiah, the resurrected one. It is the great message of hope for our world. 

It’s interesting that Paul mixes this story about the individual within the church community with the vision of the Paschal Lamb. Paul
is encouraging the church to celebrate the festival. I think that’s the same thing that we are being encouraged today; to celebrate in it’s fullness the festival of passover. The problem was that the Corinthian church wasn’t experiencing the fullness of the celebration because there was still “leaven” in their community, practiced in the life of an individual who had power, and probably financial resources. 

It is a great temptation to point fingers at those on the outside of the church, but Paul says not to do that. He says the greatest problem is what is being tolerated among those who are claim to be a part of the church community, or those in leadership. What do we do about the individual who pays a great deal in tithe money, when we discover that they have been involved in an adulterous affair? Are they treated differently than we may treat others? This is the difficult question that Paul is asking the church. 

We are in the midst of the festival, but to truly celebrate, we must live into the new life provided for us in Christ. Each person who claims to be a follower of Christ should live in the purity of the unleavened batch of dough. Paul was reprimanding the church folks for boasting about the individual being a part of their community. He was saying that their pride was part of the problem. 

The entire church community should humbly stand before God, submitting to the reality of the sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb. Then, we move into new life as we celebrate the estival, “with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”  

Prayer:

Lord, thank you for the possibility of the Festival. May we, as your children, be vigilant to live our lives in sincerity and your truth. Amen. 

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