1 Corinthians 1:1-9
My mother was never hard to miss at a wrestling match. She sat up usually towards the top of the bleachers and took up the space that had the matches been well attended ten people would fill. She was a teacher, after all, and there is a lot of down time at a wrestling match, so there she was, sometimes embarrassingly unmistakable and mostly unmissable. My dad, on the other hand, I really did not know was there often. Since he worked, we were already away from the stands doing team stuff that he never caught my eye. While I always knew where my mother was, most of the time I did not even know my father was there until everything was said and done and he came down to congratulate or console me. Sometimes this would even surprise me!
For me, this became a symbol of my relationship with God. At times, God has been like my mother so visible that I could not miss, but often God has been more like my father: there, but hard to see. There are many reasons why God is hard to see at times. Regardless of the reason we do not see God, we can always be assured that God is there and has not abandoned us.
This is the essential point that Paul is writing to the troubled church in Corinth. As he begins the letter to this church, he starts hitting on one of the main problems that they seem to be having: they are losing their faith in God and seeking quick answers and spiritual comfort from, well, wherever they can find it.
Paul is interesting though, in the formula of his letters he writes in a fashion which is designed to lift up this community of followers. As Eugene Peterson puts it in his translation “Just think—you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! ” We forget that so often as a church and as individuals.
I remember working with a non-Presbyterian church once when they were getting ready to hire a new pastor. They were struggling and trying to think of whom they were going to call, going through their discernment of what qualities they wanted in their new pastor, and most importantly, what they could do to “save their church.” As I listened it became evident, as is true of most congregations today, that they were not looking for a pastoral relationship, they were looking for a Jesus to save them.
They did not like it when I told them that it was not going to happen. When they winced at that, I reminded them of their own theology and the fact that they had already been saved. To that they had to think a bit, realizing that instead of looking outside their church for a savior, they had to look within and find someone who would accentuate the gifts they already had. Interestingly, they did pretty well with the person they hired. And though in the tough times they were in they felt as if God abandoned them, through discernment and reflection they realized where God had been the whole time.
I remember times when I would get angry with my father for him not being there even though he was, and how silly I felt when I later found out the truth. Sometimes it is easier to believe a truth that you made up over the reality of what is really happening. But that is human, and part of who we are. Our struggle is to keep faith when it is hard to know where God is, to have the assurance that God has given us everything we need, and to trust that God will be there to congratulate us for a life well-lived, or give us compassion when we might have fallen.
 Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: The Bible in contemporary language (1 Co 1:7–9). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen