Sixty million cells. Thirty-six million heartbeats a year. Three hundred billion red blood cells produced every day. Sixty thousand miles of blood vessels in each body. The human body. A complex, miraculous system. That, Paul says, is the Christian community.
And he wasn’t talking about just any body, he was talking about Christ’s body. A holy body. The holiest body. He told his community they were to be the “body” that Jesus would be if he was physically present.
“The body of Christ” - almost sounds cliché. We may have heard that we are “the body of Christ” so often that we hardly pay attention to it. But think about the magnitude of what Paul is saying. Sit with the analogy.
You are―we are―the body of Christ. Wow!
There are 100 billion neurons in the brain. There are 54 bones in your hands. Twenty-five million new cells are being produced every second.
The body is constantly evolving, interconnected, designed for life.
For Christians the purpose of life - is love.
Jesus’ body is designed for love.
So our body is designed for love.
Glen Morris United Church as the body of Christ has faithfully joined God’s loving mission during the past two years.
We may have missed our sacred space and grieved not being able to gather in person the way we would like to, but love is still very much alive.
In the past two years, we were indeed the body of Christ. We learned how to worship in a new way – online – and welcomed many different ‘ministers’ who shared their unique styles of leadership. We enjoyed sharing that online worship with St. George United occasionally. And even though we could not meet in person, we embraced each other with smiles, tears and laughter as we gathered for coffee before worship and realized how very flexible we could be. Our Pastoral Care team was tasked with new ways of making sure our most fragile were being thought of and cared for. New ways of fundraising saw online concerts from Newfoundland, a Pancake Day contest, online Silent Auction and a Robbie Burns Night. Our Faith Formation Committee was called to plan and implement worship services when we did not have a minister. The Reopening Committee was tasked with navigating constantly changing health guidelines to keep us all safe. The music that is such an important part of our worship experience changed and we could not sing together as a choir or congregation, but it did not stop us from hearing and singing the music. The huge plans of our Phase II and III renovations became a reality with so many hands and heads and hearts – and dollars – making this happen, which in itself is a miracle during this pandemic when so many churches have closed there doors. We learned how to better communicate, via website, weekly Passing the Peace newsletters, Facebook, Instagram, email and phone call. All committees continued to meet, learning how to navigate zoom and screen sharing and spotlighting. We reopened cautiously for awhile, thrilled to see each other and our beautiful church and inviting children back into our midst, albeit short lived. But we were flexible in knowing we needed to close and did what we needed to do. We said goodbye to a minister and welcome to others. We grieved our losses and shared in our joys. The elements brought to online communion were often unique and when we were able to break bread together again in person, we were flexible in the sharing of single use juice and wafer elements. Recognizing how very important it is to work towards truth and reconciliation with our First Nations brothers and sisters, we weekly acknowledged the land on which we worship and included First Nations artwork as a focal point in our new Heritage Room. We found new ways to celebrate Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter and constantly rose to new challenges in making those celebrations happen. In many ways, we have never been stronger. We continued to support financially. We answered the calls. We were flexible. We were creative. We were committed. We were – and are - the body of Christ.
We have joined the wider body of Christ through our collective Mission & Service, too. Together, we have supported partners in pandemic relief efforts to help provide personal protective equipment, safe shelter, sanitation stations, public awareness communications, and food hampers. We have provided over 8,360 full vaccinations to those living in the global South and East and $500,000 in COVID-19 emergency funding. In addition, $240,000 was distributed to partners in our region alone so we can help close to home.
The pandemic has not diminished our mission. The central call to love as Jesus loves is the same as it has ever been.
When we meet as committees or teams―whatever they may be―and when we met for our Annual Congregational meeting a few weeks ago to reflect on the year past and on the year to come - we aren’t just ticking off agenda items. We are meeting for the sake of love.
When we are discussing the budget, our discussions are an expression of love. When we are schlepping around fixing God knows what in our buildings, or setting up mic’s and cameras, zoom or powerpoint, that work is an expression of love. When we are recording minutes, balancing books, and doing all the behind-the-scenes coordinating and organizing―we do that for love. When we are trying to figure out how best to comfort spirits and soothe hearts even while we feel dislocated ourselves―we are all about love.
I’m not telling you anything new. I’m just reminding you and me of who we are―the body of Christ.
What does that mean? Well…
Jesus reached out his hand and touched people who needed healing. He laid his hands on those who were sick and dying and extended forgiveness to sinners.
He ate with people no one else dared associate with.
With his voice, he told stories―parables that changed peoples’ hearts.
With his ears, he listened to the yearning of countless souls.
He got down on his knees to wash his disciples’ feet and brought children onto his knees to teach a lesson about what’s important.
He sweated in the garden of suffering.
He stretched his arms on the cross.
And at the end of it all, he appeared to his disciples to show them that new life is possible.
He used his whole being for love.
Paul says, “You are the body of Christ.”
In all that we say and do, let us not forget:
We are the body of Christ.
For the sake of love.
As we go forward, whatever the next year brings, may we continue to embody love.
With much credit to the United Church of Canada Creative Commons
Thank you Karen! What a beautiful sermon... Filled to the Brim with love.