It pleases me that you continue to remember and honor me by keeping up the traditions of the faith I taught you. All actual authority stems from Christ.
In a marriage relationship, there is authority from Christ to husband, and from husband to wife. The authority of Christ is the authority of God.
Any man who speaks with God or about God in a way that shows a lack of respect for the authority of Christ, dishonors Christ.
In the same way, a wife who speaks with God in a way that shows a lack of respect for the authority of her husband, dishonors her husband.
Worse, she dishonors herself - an ugly sight, like a woman with her head shaved. This is basically the origin of these customs we have of women wearing head coverings in worship, while men take their hats off. By these symbolic acts,
men and women, who far too often butt heads with each other, submit their "heads" to the Head: God.
Don't, by the way, read too much into the differences here between men and women.
Neither man nor woman can go it alone or claim priority. Man was created first, as a beautiful shining reflection of God - that is true. But the head on a woman's body clearly outshines in beauty the head of her "head," her husband.
The first woman came from man, true - but ever since then, every man comes from a woman! And since virtually everything comes from God anyway, let's quit going through these "who's first" routines.
Don't you agree there is something naturally powerful in the symbolism - a woman, her beautiful hair reminiscent of angels, praying in adoration; a man, his head bared in reverence, praying in submission?
I hope you're not going to be argumentative about this. All God's churches see it this way; I don't want you standing out as an exception.
Regarding this next item, I'm not at all pleased. I am getting the picture that when you meet together it brings out your worst side instead of your best!
First, I get this report on your divisiveness, competing with and criticizing each other. I'm reluctant to believe it, but there it is.
The best that can be said for it is that the testing process will bring truth into the open and confirm it.
And then I find that you bring your divisions to worship - you come together, and instead of eating the Lord's Supper,
you bring in a lot of food from the outside and make pigs of yourselves. Some are left out, and go home hungry. Others have to be carried out, too drunk to walk. I can't believe it!
Don't you have your own homes to eat and drink in? Why would you stoop to desecrating God's church? Why would you actually shame God's poor? I never would have believed you would stoop to this. And I'm not going to stand by and say nothing.
Let me go over with you again exactly what goes on in the Lord's Supper and why it is so centrally important. I received my instructions from the Master himself and passed them on to you. The Master, Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, took bread.
Having given thanks, he broke it and said, This is my body, broken for you. Do this to remember me.
After supper, he did the same thing with the cup: This cup is my blood, my new covenant with you. Each time you drink this cup, remember me.
What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns. You must never let familiarity breed contempt.
Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Master irreverently is like part of the crowd that jeered and spit on him at his death. Is that the kind of "remembrance" you want to be part of?
Examine your motives, test your heart, come to this meal in holy awe.
If you give no thought (or worse, don't care) about the broken body of the Master when you eat and drink, you're running the risk of serious consequences.
That's why so many of you even now are listless and sick, and others have gone to an early grave.
If we get this straight now, we won't have to be straightened out later on.
Better to be confronted by the Master now than to face a fiery confrontation later.
So, my friends, when you come together to the Lord's Table, be reverent and courteous with one another.
If you're so hungry that you can't wait to be served, go home and get a sandwich. But by no means risk turning this Meal into an eating and drinking binge or a family squabble. It is a spiritual meal - a love feast. The other things you asked about, I'll respond to in person when I make my next visit.