The principal scripture at each worship service this weekend is 2 Corinthians 12:2-10. Derrick nor I have ever preached it before.
It's fun to research a passage for a sermon for the first time. No, really. It pushes you to read it differently, communally, which is really how the Bible is meant to be read. There is certainly value to hearing what God is saying to you (singular), but the Bible's voice, as a whole, is to you plural (to us).
Paul's letters were composed with churches, that is assembled bodies of believers, in mind. This week's reading is for the Corinthians who, according to 2 Corinthians 11 (which would be helpful for you to read before Sunday) have come under the spell of people Paul calls "super-apostles." That nickname, like much of chapters 11 and 12, is offered with a mocking tone. Paul is not impressed by whoever these interlopers are who've begun messing with the Corinthians. Whatever they're preaching and teaching, it doesn't seem to be Jesus, at least not the Jesus that Paul shared with the Corinthians. What it seems to be is a whole lot of them and how their way is the way to go, almost as if what the Corinthians need is the super-apostles rather than Jesus, as if the Corinthians' strength is found in the super-apostles or themselves, not in Jesus, as if all you need is to follow their tips in life and you won't be weak and, therefore, you won't need Jesus' grace or power at all.
Their gospel of self-help has not been my experience and it wasn't Paul's either. What he taught was the value of weakness, the gift that is weakness, the good news that comes from our weakness. I've enjoyed digging into it more this week and Derrick and I look forward to sharing it with you Sunday.