So evidently we are one body, one body of interconnected parts working together for the good of the whole, including for the good of many well beyond us. That doesn’t make it easy for the church. From time to time we guarantee there will be personality clashes, power struggles, complaining over what turns out to be the most miniscule matters, flat-out negative attitudes that can bring the entire body into severe depression, not to mention pastors with egos the size of entire continents. Nevertheless, through it all we are one body united by one Lord, one faith, one baptism throughout the world.
And when it comes to this body we know as the church, we need all parts to work just as they are, just as they have been shaped over time. The church is often seen as a place to fix those parts, a divine body shop, if you will. People come here because there’s something wrong: there’s been a death in the family, there’s guilt over a fight breaking out at home, there’s fear of what lies beyond this life, there’s trepidation about the news overwhelmed with violence. So people come to church to fix that fear, fix the guilt, put the mind at ease, and perhaps along the way craft and mold us into better people in the process: make us sin less often, make us into these outstanding Christians. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but taken to the extreme the church becomes incredibly judgmental and unbelievably narrow-minded, to say the least, as if we have the ultimate authority to determine what God’s children should be like for the entirety of their life. We become this body that sneers at the other parts for not fulfilling their role exactly as we desire. They don’t contribute enough, they don’t help out enough, they don’t come to worship enough. And so we need reminded: we are one body not because of anything we have done, but instead because of one Lord, one faith, one baptism through thick and thin, no matter what.
You see as the church we want people just as they are with all their unique personalities and interesting quirks that they bring to the body, because it takes an immense variety of gifts to not only make this body function, but for it to thrive. For starters, it takes certain kind of people to take the time to prepare the meal we know as Holy Communion, to prepare the one bread, the one cup that unites us and nourishes us as the now-living body of Christ for the sake of the world. But we also need people here every Sunday to stand at our front door and welcome others, to help them feel loved and accepted just as they are. We need others who will welcome people into the sanctuary, and during the service invite them forward to taste and see the goodness of our Risen Lord of everlasting life. We need someone with the talent to play the music as the foundation for our voices to sing praises and unite as one voice in giving glory to our Savior Whose one broken body ended up making us whole.
We need people who will prepare refreshments for after the service, so that the worship, in fact, continues as we share laughter and joys and concerns with others, giving thanks to God for the precious times in our life and for having this body to share it with. In those important moments of fellowship the body strengthens its ligaments, what joins bone to bone, part to part, uniting us through our experiences of trials and triumphs and dependence on this God throughout this life. Through it all we are one body of Christ united by that one Lord, one faith, one baptism spreading throughout the world.
We are one body driven by humility and sacrifice for the good of all, oftentimes with what we do going unnoticed by the rest of the body. In the background are people who clean this space, who count the offerings, who make the bulletins, who shovel the snow, who check our finances, and we could go on and on. But this body of Christ extends well beyond a single congregation. It includes Young Adults in Global Mission, sacrificing a year, and sometimes even more, of their life to service in places like Rwanda and the Philippines, serving children and those in poverty. It includes men and women serving in Lutheran Disaster Response, who are often the first ones in and the last ones out when a hurricane or an earthquake pulverizes entire cities.
It includes us financially supporting the wider church to strengthen outdoor ministry camps and scholarships for young people to go to college and even seminary, when they may otherwise not be able to live that dream. We are one body that extends throughout the world across all the boundaries the church has created over the centuries. We break them down by often sending our food gathered each week to a Catholic Community Center. Our youth will be part of a mission trip this summer that will bring in young people from a variety of denominations. We are one body through this one Lord, one faith, one baptism throughout the world.
We are one body of interconnected parts, and we want them just as they are, with all their passions and extraordinary gifts that we so often take for granted; and to provide all the opportunities we possibly can to make sure their talents, whatever it is that drives them, can be used for the betterment of all our sisters and brothers in Christ throughout the world. Because no matter what, no matter how much the church, including the people, change from generation to generation, we will always be one body united by that One Lord, Jesus Christ. In the end, because He lives, so too will His body now and forevermore! And for that we give thanks to God indeed! Amen.
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Rev. Nan Dehnke, Pastor
Office: Mon - Thu: 9 a.m. - Noon