The Church Is Like a Body

A sermon by Michael Pahl on September 15, 2019, called “The Church Is Like a Body,” reflecting on 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. This is the second in a five-part series called “Together we are a Church.”

Here is a written excerpt from the conclusion:

We feel our limitations, our frailties, our fallibilities, deep in our bodies. When we get up the courage to pause and think about it, we can even recognize our mortality, the precariousness of human life. And yet we are each capable of doing wonders: feeling affection, sharing delight, showing compassion, speaking truth, practicing goodness, creating beauty.

This paradox is well expressed by another psalmist: “When I look at your heavens, O God, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established, what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor” (Ps 8:3-5).

We are but dust, formed from bits of second-hand carbon and recycled water. Dust we are, and to dust we shall return. And yet we are created in God’s image, crowned with divine glory and endowed with the divine spirit. We are each capable of doing wonders.

This paradox is true for each one of us, embodied spirits, enspirited bodies that we are. This paradox is also true for us as a church.

We are very much like a body, a frail and fragile bundle of weakness and woundedness. Yet we are together capable of doing wonders: we are not just like a body, we are the body of Christ.

Jesus Christ is our head: he is the source of our life, the centre of our existence, giving us purpose and direction. Christ’s Spirit is within us, among us, animating us, empowering us.

And so we continue Christ’s mission in the world:

  • being Jesus’ ears in the world, hearing the cries of the afflicted and the oppressed;
  • being Jesus’ eyes in the world, searching for the lost, those shunned by the privileged powerful as worthless and by the righteous religious as sinners;
  • being Jesus’ hands in the world, embracing the least and clothing the naked and healing the sick and welcoming the stranger;
  • being Jesus’ mouth in the world, sharing this good news of God’s kingdom with the poor and the poor in spirit;
  • being Jesus’ feet in the world, carrying this good news, these listening ears, these loving hands, to the ends of the earth if need be.

It seems impossible, that this frail and fragile body of weakness and woundedness could do these wonders of God. And yet we have this promise from Jesus himself: “I will build my church”—Christ’s own body within the world—“and the very gates of Death will not prevail against it”—the most powerful forces of evil will be overcome by the more powerful force of love in the way of Jesus.

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