Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Many Are One

The Many Are One: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
Commerce Presbyterian Church, Santa Fe, January 24, 2016

This morning’s sermon is about our calling to unity as members of the body of Christ.

“The human body has 206 bones, 639 muscles, and about 6 pounds of skin, along with ligaments, cartilage, veins, arteries, blood, fat, [organs, fibers, tissues]....
Every time we hear a sound; every time we take a step; every time we take a breath [or eat a bit of food], hundreds of different parts [and thousands of different cells] work together, so that we experience a single movement, [accomplish a common purpose]….”[1]
The body is a holy mystery…I still can’t get over the miracle of birth, the miracle of food converted into energy, or air converted into mostly oxygen, making a sound to sing.  
Richard Rohr says, “The spiritual world is hidden and perfectly revealed in the physical world.”[3]
We know a lot more about the human body today than Paul did when he was writing 2000 years ago.  
But he knew enough to know how powerful and mysterious an image the human body would be for the church.[2] Paul uses the example of the particular parts of the human bodies to describe how collectively we are the body of Christ as a Christian community. The body of Christ--united for the singular purpose to carry out the mission of Christ.

As the body of Christ—in our baptism—Christ’s mission found in Luke 4 is our mission.  Christ’s purpose gives us purpose.  Trusting that the Spirit of the Lord is upon us, together: We are to bring good news to the poor; heal the brokenhearted; announce release to captives; help the blind to recover sight; and aid the oppressed in becoming free; and by doing so live into the year of Jubilee, for the sake of land, creatures, humanity, and God.

Isn't it beautiful to consider what Christian community has accomplished in the past? Isn't it inspiring to think of what can be done in the future?

Just as there are endless needs, the possibilities are limitless as to what can be done, and we can do them well until...division, then falling apart, then dis-integration…
It seems there has been some division in the early church community in corinth…dissenting among the members….a disturbance in the force….
What has led to the divisions?
Let’s see
it seems divisions were being created over human distinctions and categorizing--
Jews or Greeks, Slaves or Free?
We can think of so many ways to distinguish ourselves can’t we; a way for some to feel superior to others
You may name a few of the more in vogue ways to distinguish yourself from others quietly in your head….

Jesus calls this judging, which can also be interpreted labeling--and what does he say about it:
do not judge. Do not label.  Do not reduce others to your categories.  

In the earlier part of this chapter, We see distinctions taking place over seems division was taking place over whose gifts were the greatest gifts, again superiority…
who has the most scripture memorized, who prays the hardest, who can preach the loudest, who can speak in tongues the fastest, who is the most holy and pure.
which led to
Power struggles---who’s in charge!  
Have you been in situations where there were divisions over who’s in charge in church?

When there are divisions, it can lead some to feel superior and others to feel inferior

He says: Are some parts of the body more important than other parts in terms of functioning?  Aren’t all parts dependent on other parts? I love the way Paul illustrates this point:[4]
FOOT: “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong.”
EAR: Because I am not an eye, I do not belong.”
What if all were an EYE?
EYE to Hand: “Hand, I have no need of you.”
HEAD to FEET: “I have no need of you, Feet,.”

Can I reference Saturday Night Live skits to help with Paul’s point?
In Wayne’s World, Wayne and his pals would always run into famous rock stars whom they idolized and they would inevitably say, “We’re not worthy, We’re not worthy.”  Are any in the church community, any who have been redeemed by Christ, Loved by God, not worthy to be recognized by others?  

It is a lie for anyone to suggest you are not worthy. As redeemed and loved people of God, we can be confident that we belong. God has given us good gifts to be valued and used! We are worthy of God’s loves and the love of others.
You, yes you, and so is she, and so is he, and so is that person over there, and yes that one too

maybe a better questions is, are any of us famous rock stars? (maybe in our own minds)…

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul is attempting to help the padawans to recognize that we are in no way in competition with one another or even worse trying to undermine the other.
Doing so makes as much sense as they eye cutting off the hand.
everyone who feels called to be part can belong.  
Everyone who feels called to be part does belongs…

Simple, yet profound.
True, yet so difficult to put into practice.

And Paul actually suggests that where there are distinctions and differences, these not only are not to lead to separation; but rather,
it is through diversity in the that the community becomes most gifted.
Rather than seeing distinctions and difference as a disadvantage, Paul suggests diversity may be the greatest advantage, as he paints these rather sci-fi images.  What if we were all eye?  OR just a giant ear?  It is the diversity of the body that makes the body function well….

Two men in a church, both older both widowers.  Hal and Gus. Hal is blind.  Gus is in a wheel chair.  Hal cannot see and Gus cannot walk but together they can get to where they want to go, each providing an essential element to the other; each being the body of Christ with the other.[5]

Our belonging, our mattering, our dependency, is more an issue of wholeness than it is equality.  With all participating, the body can be whole.[6] When we live into the mystery of being part of the body we can say to each other: “You have gifts that I don't have.”  “He is a servant in ways that I don't know how to serve.”  
“It’s awesome she has this gift.”  
I can’t be who God has created me to be, without you.
I can’t do what God wants me to do without you.
It’s really cool to think about these Talent Surveys:  Basically, its an attempt at figuring out how we can all come together and fit together to be one in ministry.
If you haven't filled out the survey yet, please see Cathy Fletcher.

Christian Community is such a gift
when one member suffers, all suffer.  CPC is a beautiful community bound in prayer.

when one member is honored all are honored. I love when newspaper  articles about folks in church appear on the bulletin board!
It is so touching when I witness they way you love, care and pray for one another.

This is the tie that binds...

look at each other

…everyone matters regardless  every
person belongs regardless..
And we depend on each other
It's A radical understanding of life together: equalizing, valuing, loving, sharing, redeeming, wholeness.

The final image I find so simple yet profound paul uses is that of clothes. If the christian community is a body, what clothes do we wear? Paul says, clothes of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience…
With those kind of glamorous can there be division?
Instead unity in difference
For a common purpose and mission to do what Christ set out to do.

The affirmation of faith comes from the mission Jesus proclaimed as his own.
He read from the scroll of Isaiah, a passage that spoke of the coming Messiah, and covered the famous song…
He made that mission of the Messiah, his own, which is what we do as the body of Christ.

As the body of Christ—in our baptism—Christ’s messianic mission 2000 years ago is still our mission.  Christ’s purpose gives us purpose.  Trusting that the Spirit of the Lord is upon us: We will bring good news to the poor; heal the brokenhearted; announce release to captives; help the blind to recover sight; and aid the oppressed in becoming free; and by doing so live into the ideal of Jubilee, for the sake of land, creatures, humanity, and God.

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