Sermon Ideas For 1 Corinthians 12:12-30 Part 3
The Apostle Paul pleads for unity in the church at Corinth. He does this by developing a comparison between the Christian community and a healthy living body. If either a body or community is to be healthy, that health will be maintained by the proper functioning of numerous and diverse parts. The absence or neglect of any part will threaten the life of the whole.
This theme is well illustrated by the West Portals of The Cathedral of Notre Dame at Chartres, in France. This cathedral, after being rebuilt after several fires, was completed in the early 13th Century. The three portals, or doorways, are bordered by numerous statues, carved into stone columns and arches surrounding each door. The style of these statues represents a break from earlier, Romanesque statues, in that each individual figure is more clearly drawn, and less tangled up with the others surrounding it. Approaching these portals, one sees a multitude of forms, of statues depicting apostles, elders, priests, kings, evangelists, and figures representing wisdom. Each of these figures stands out distinctly, as if to announce their value and importance in the story of faith.
Yet each statue is held within the architecture of the three portals. The forms surround each door, and arch upward to the top where Christ sits enthroned. The absence of any one of these numerous figures, even the smallest, would diminish the overall plan.
It is tempting to imagine the effect this cathedral might have on someone entering through these doors. As you neared the portals, you would see this extravagant diversity of figures. Perhaps this would suggest to you the diversity of roles which exist in the church.
The major achievement of Gothic architecture is apparent when one passes through the doors of these cathedrals. There one encounters the wonder of this huge, dense stone structure rising up to hold the radiance of light passing through stained glass.It is possible to draw a comparison between this massive stone edifice which has become a place of light, and the grace which dwells amidst the church, comprised as the church is by such earthbound people.
Dante's Medieval classic, The Divine Comedy, has been compared in its elaborate structure, to a cathedral. Those who labor to make this point have compared such elements as the demons in Canto 21 of The Inferno, to the carved gargoyles which are a common feature of Medieval architecture.
But while the cathedral achieves its splendid effect with light, Dante's classic poems succeed with the theme of love.
Some of the more cherished lines in this comedy are found, surprisingly enough, when Dante and his companion, Virgil, are deep in the bowels of Hell. Virgil, representing Reason, is explaining to Dante the origin of a strange formation or rocks:
I should tell you that when last I came this dark way to the depths of Hell, this rock had not yet felt the ruinous blast. But certainly, if I am not mistaken, it was just before the coming of Him who took the souls from Limbo, that all Hell was shaken So that I thought the universe felt love and all its elements moved toward harmony. (Canto 12, lines 37-40)
The amazement in this is that there is no realm which cannot be shaken by God's love. It is a surprise like those massive, stone cathedrals which provide a place for such wondrous light.
There is surprise too, in Paul's words to the church at Corinth. As different as we are and as diverse, exceptional or ordinary our gifts, Christians comprise a unity that somehow bears light and love to this world. Maybe even Hell itself will not remain unshaken.
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