“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? […] As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” (from 1 Corinthians 12:12–20)
One of the great gifts that Paul offered to the church was this image of the Church in all of its diversity being the body of Christ. It’s easy for some to forget that each and every one of us is an integral part the Church.
I just returned from our Young Adult Habitat trip to New Orleans. We were graciously hosted by a church that was trying to rise to new life. A few years ago, it had dwindled to six members (and some of the behavior among those six sounded profoundly unhealthy). But, something in the spirit of the church wanted to live. The congregation now has had as many as 52 people in worship, but the core remains a relatively small group. When a church is that size it’s very easy for everyone to know how every other person is sharing in the ministry of life or death for the congregation. Most parts of the body are well known to the rest. It’s not unlike our mission team of 10, each with their wonderful unique gifts. We quickly learned on the job-site that not everyone was cut out for every task. Some were very clear about their relationship to ladders, others found that sometimes the nail that they pounded with the hammer was attached to the end of their finger… Indeed, there was more finger pounding than I’m used to on a job site. But the good news was that we had a hundred fingers among us, so any one or two at a time being pained still left the body of the group fairly dexterous. One of the profound gifts of going on a mission trip is living in a small community and learning to celebrate all the diverse gifts among us. They’re always there in every group, but sometimes we fail to notice.
Our congregation of about 500 allows many people to be less obvious with the ways that they may live as a part of the body of Christ. I see the mission of the church lived out with one praying, one serving, one sending cards, one caring for our buildings and things physical, one listening to the needs of another… and the list goes on. I’m sure that I don’t always do a good enough job of voicing my appreciation of all the myriad ways that the diverse parts of our church give it life and breath. But what I can see regularly is a place that often knows how to let the spirit work through it. Note that I say “often”, for there are certainly times when it seems that some of the critical appendages are suffering from the pins and needle numbness that comes when a limb “goes to sleep.” In those times it may be necessary to move and restore a little spiritual circulation.
There is an announcement in this Tidings that our secretary of 27 years will be retiring at the end of May. Diane has done an extraordinary job of coordinating lots of the ministry which takes place within our church home. She has certainly tirelessly ministered on the phone and in the office with her humble presence. It is hard to even begin to access all the ways that she has been an integral part of our church. We will celebrate the next chapters of her life even as we will profoundly miss her presence among us.
This change will be another time when we are called to step up and be the church. All of us will need to think about those who surround us and make our church come to life. Together we will continue to do great things… but the changes will also be extraordinary.
What is your role within the body of Peace Church? Have you thanked the hands and feet and heart that are at work in the multitude around you? Have you thought about what part of your own gifts you may need to shake out, wake up, and invite to dance with the rest of the body?
May God bless us in the ongoing witness!