Friday, January 25, 2019

What would we do without you?

May it bring you joy and comfort to know that you - YOU! - belong to God and all of us need you.

As a kid, I enjoyed the comic strip Peanuts by Charles Schulz. Years later I often thought of the series in that comic where Snoopy’s body parts argued with each other as he jogged. Every body part argues that without themselves, the whole body would be in big trouble. And they’re right!

It’s easy to focus on the things in yourself that don’t, in your mind, measure up: I’m weak. I don’t pray enough. I don’t go to church enough. I was mean to someone. I didn’t show God’s love the way I should have. I wasted my time. Other people are way better at this or that than I am. There are billions of people; I’m nothing special. On and on.

But God loves you. You are special, beloved in fact! And each of us, as it says in the Bible, are a part of the body of Christ. People who may not believe in Christ know they are a part of something bigger. The saying “It takes all kinds to make the world go round” says that. We need our differences. We need each other.

Even people who used to be called “idiots” are needed. Have you heard of Jean Vanier? Years ago, he started a movement called L’Arche (“the ark”) where people with and without disabilities live together. Your first thought (if you’re like me) is that the people with disabilities need those without disabilities. The ones without disabilities are the caretakers for those with disabilities -- they are the necessary ones.

That’s true, of course, but the people with disabilities are necessary, too. People who live in these communities have story after story about the ways those with disabilities care for them. Here is a young woman telling one of those stories. She describes how those for whom she is a caretaker took care of her. At the end of her story she says she learned about God’s love: “how we are beloved in God’s eyes,... that we are worth loving and even in the moments when it feels like we’re not worthy of love or we’re being a burden on somebody else that God is there for us through other people and God’s love will show through.”

How beautiful is that? You, with all your faults and weaknesses, with all your seeming unworthiness, you are God’s beloved.

Unity & Diversity in the Body (I Corinthians 12:12-34)

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? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

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