1 Corinthians 12:12-13
The body of Christ made sense to me for more than three decades. I learned about it in Sunday school, choir, Sunday evening services, and Vacation Bible School. Through that metaphor, my teachers helped me see how the work of our church was connected to that of other churches all around the world. A dollar given for the missions offering would multiply as it made its way to Africa, defying all economic logic. Together, our different projects, choir performances, and mission trips built the kingdom of God through elbow grease and shoe leather.
That vision shattered for me one Sunday morning when I visited my in-laws’ church. My husband’s family attends the Nazarene church down the street from the Baptist church where I grew up. You could walk between them, if you trusted your antiperspirant. At the time, we lived out-of-state, so visiting our parents on Sundays meant trying to sit in pews with both our mothers. We left the 8:45 Baptist worship service and drove up the street for the 10:45 Nazarene one. We passed the Episcopal church on the catty-corner, went over the railroad tracks, and stopped at the four-way intersection that faced the Nazarene church. On the left was a new mural celebrating First African Baptist Church as the site of Martin Luther King, Jr’s first sermon, delivered on April 17, 1944. It startled me. I never knew that.
After we parked, I looked back down the street and saw it for the first time: First Nazarene, First African Baptist, Christ Episcopal, First Baptist, Immaculate Conception Catholic—all in a line—then hang a right for First Methodist. It looked like the leg and foot of a stick man, if you connected all the dots. A stick man, indeed.
What are the connection points between you and other Christians? Between your church and other churches? What connections are missing? What must you confess to draw the line boldly?
God, we confess that we’ve limited your body to make it look like ours. Show us how to connect and embody your vision more fully. Amen.