One Body with Many Members
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.
~ 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 (NRSV)
What an exciting day it is today! A day of new beginnings and fresh starts. A day of figuring out who we are and what we are called to do. A day of teamwork and community. A day of possibility and inspiration!
Friends, as the summer comes to an end, many people long to get back into a regular routine. The fall season brings with it “back to school” and back to a more consistent schedule. Here in Oldtown as a part of that process, we celebrate today, as this morning we began our Household Huddles again—inviting families and individuals to come together, to build relationships, to learn more about the Bible, to prepare for worship, and to better understand what it means to live a life of faith.
In this morning’s scripture reading, we heard a piece of one of Paul’s letters to the church in Corinth. At the time, the church was struggling because the idea of Christianity was still something quite new. In his letter, Paul was reminding the people that each one of them was important, and that message is the same for us today. Because the church is not about one leader, or one teacher, or even one board or committee or ministry; it’s about everyone working together, using the individual gifts that we have been given to build up our church, our faith community, and ultimately the Body of Christ.
In Household Huddle this morning, we reflected on the way that Paul compared the Body of Christ—meaning the community of believers—to our own human bodies. There is a picture of Mr. Potato Head on our bulletin cover because we used Mr. Potato Head in Huddle to reflect on just a few of the body parts that are important to us.
Paul told the church in Corinth—and each and every church since—that, just as every part of our bodies— our eyes and ears, our hands and feet, our legs and arms and mouths—are important, every member of the Body of Christ is important too! That means all of us! That means every visitor and member and friend of our church is important, not only to us as a faith community, but also to the Body of Christ as a whole.
The truth is, God has created each of us with individual gifts to share, and luckily, they are all different. Look around the sanctuary for a minute. You may have similarities with many of the people here, but to be honest, it’s your differences, your uniqueness, that gives strength and depth and width to who we are as a community. What if everyone here was exactly the same and had exactly the same gifts to share? It would be pretty boring, wouldn’t it?
Actually, without our diversity in knowledge and personality, in our experience and in our interests, we wouldn’t be able to function. Because friends, here in Oldtown, we need singers and cooks, artists and construction workers. We need people that are good with numbers and those who can sew and knit and crochet. We need preachers and coffee servers, teachers and gardeners. We need those who are sometimes outspoken and those who are good listeners. We need people who are good at organizing and cleaning and those who are good at advertising and resolving conflicts. We need people who are creative and imaginative and those who are well-grounded and realistic.
Friends, to make a successful faith community, it takes teamwork. It’s not enough to simply consider yourself part of the family because as part of the family, it takes sharing your gifts and talents and even your treasures to make the body whole, healthy, and complete.
Earlier, I told you that today was an exciting day. I said that it was a day of new beginnings and fresh starts, a day of teamwork and community, a day of possibility and inspiration! The summer is coming to an end, and we are getting back to our regular routines and more consistent schedules. And yes, today we celebrate the fact that we have started Household Huddle again, but there is something else that starts today, something else that we celebrate, at least many of us. Tonight at 8:20, Tom Brady and our New England Patriots are kicking off their first official game of the NFL season!
Now I know that some of you are thinking, “What do to the New England Patriots have to do with the apostle Paul and the Body of Christ?” And my answer would be, “A lot!” The game of football, like many sports, is all about teamwork. It’s about each player using their God-given gifts, knowing what their job is, and doing it.
Obviously, in football, not everyone can be the coach or the quarterback, a linebacker or a defensive end. It takes everyone doing what they are there to do in order for the team to be successful.
Here in New England, for those of you that don’t know, we have a pretty strong football team. They have won six Super Bowls. They have the best coach and quarterback to ever play the game. And now this year, their defense is expected to be one of the best in the league. Being a team that has that impressive of a track record, you would think that they would know what to do and how to do it, right? You would think that they would get right to it, right? But what is the saying that Bill Belichick is most well-known for? “Do your job!” Do your job! Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing; do what you are made to do, and do it well.
Friends, here in Oldtown as we begin a new program year, it’s going to take each of us doing our jobs. It’s not about a handful of people working hard and sharing their gifts, but it’s about each and everyone one of us identifying our own gifts and passions, the things we enjoy doing, the things that we do well, and then sharing them with others. That’s how we do our job. That’s how we live out our faith, and that’s how we build up the Body of Christ.
So, brothers and sisters in Christ, as you go out into your busy week ahead, the message is simple. Listen to Coach Belichick, and do your job! No matter who you are or where you’ve come from, whether you are three years old or a hundred and three, no matter where you live, or what you do, or how much money you make, or whether you know the Bible a lot or a little or not at all. Share the gifts that God has given you. Start with what you enjoy doing and what you do well. Don’t look to everyone else to take care of everything. If we all go out and do our job, not only will the world be a better place, but this church, and more importantly the Body of Christ, will be strong and healthy and whole.
My friends, may it be so. Thanks be to God, Amen!