Grace and Peace to you:
First Corinthians, chapter 12 contains one of the most important images concerning the Church in the New Testament. It is Paul’s image of the body of Christ. I am sure that most of you know it well but it bears repeating. Often.
“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.” … Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
We, all of us, all clergy and laity in the various churches in the diocese are a part of the body of Christ in Oregon. We are not the entire body, there are others who participate in God in other ways, but we are a particular people, called by God to worship and praise, to work and to love for the sake of the world that God created and that God continues to love. In our particular way of claiming our purpose we say that, “The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” (BCP 855). In Oregon our mission statement says: “Proclaiming God’s realm while living Gospel lives.” Yet no matter how you articulate it, the plain fact of the matter is: We need each other. And so we work and we plan, we talk and we act for the sake of God’s mission of love in the world. We are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
In January I am particularly mindful of this reality because it is the season of ANNUAL MEETINGS! It is a time when Clergy and lay leaders alike can be particularly stressed out. We wonder, “Will the budget be enough this year?” Will we be able to do the things we plan for the sake of the Gospel?” Will I be blamed for any lack or loss?” “Will anyone appreciate how difficult this task is?” “Will I be thanked for the ways I know I and others have sacrificed for the sake of the church this year?”
So, please, let us all remember St. Paul’s image of the church as the body of Christ. We are all needed, we are all precious in the sight of God, and we are all loved and accepted by the holy one. We are all different parts of the same body and we need each other. I hold each of you in my prayers and pray that you hold me in yours.