Sunday, February 5, 2017

I Corinthians 3.1-9: What's Not in the Picture

Paul? Apollos? No. The one who is important is God. That's Paul's message to the Christ-followers in Corinth (I Corinthians 3:1-9, Epiphany 6A). Paul doesn't deny that both he and Apollos are part of the process, but the growth, he acknowledges, comes from God.

The seed-plant-water-grow sequence offers the opportunity to think about the church in the context of gardening or farming. In the painting that is considered his masterpiece, Scottish artist William York MacGregor, shows a vegetable stall filled with cabbages, rhubarb, leeks, potatoes, onions and more. It is a reminder that those seeds that are planted by Paul (or whomever) are seeds for a variety of produce.
 William York MacGregor. The Vegetable Stall. 1884. Edinburgh: National Galleries Scotland. For the painting, see: For an x-ray showing the painted-out figure, see:
But it is what isn't there that makes this painting an even better match for this text. Originally, influenced by Dutch and Flemish painters, MacGregor included a figure in the painting.
At the right side of the composition, the stall holder was shown counting her money. MacGregor chose to paint out that figure, just as Paul painted over the role played by himself and Apollos. It isn't that the roles of the people aren't important, it's just that God's work is more important.

One plants. One waters. But it is God who gives the increase.  

This week on Facebook: a sculptural work focusing on Matthew 5:21-37. Click here.
For thoughts on Deuteronomy 30:15-20, click here.

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