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Tuesday, January 26 2016

Pastor Becca

I’d like everyone to stay standing for a minute. And we are actually going to do something together [this morning], something that I did a lot growing up. And I’m pretty sure that once I start it, you’ll know what I’m doing almost immediately and be able to do it with me. Ready?

Head, and shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes,
Head, and shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes,
Eyes, and ears, and mouth and nose,
Head, and shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes.

Great job! Now, if you grew up in my house, you also had to learn it in Spanish! Feel free to hum along this time if you can’t get the words.

Cabeza, y hombros, piernas, pies, piernas, pies,
Cabeza, y hombros, piernas, pies, piernas, pies,
Ojos, orejas, boca y nariz,
Cabeza, y hombros, piernas, pies, piernas, pies.

…I think we’ll stick with the English! You can have a seat.

Now we didn’t do that song just because it was fun for me to watch you all (even though it was!), or because I wanted to get your blood moving (even though that’s also a valid reason). We did it because it’s kind of the song version of our reading from First Corinthians today.

Paul, the author of this letter to the people in Corinth, talks about how we are all part of the Body of Christ. He says, “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…”

So basically, the Body of Christ is all of us who are baptized and follow Jesus. So we are all members, or body parts, of this body. And who is the head of the body..? Jesus, yeah.

Paul explains how this works. He says, “Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 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. 16 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. 17 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? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.”

We are all members of the same body, the Body of Christ. That’s unity. That’s everyone working together to do what the head, Jesus, tells the body to do. Amen? But unity is not the same thing as conformity. We are not all the same.

Because in the Body of Christ, all of us are different body parts. We all have different roles. Like, one person is a hand, and another person is a knee. If the knee tried to do what the hand did, man, would we be in trouble! As Paul says, “God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.” So, YOU are called to be a certain body part and have a purpose. That purpose is going to be different than the person sitting next to you, because you are different body parts.

So—being in the Body of Christ means that we have both unity AND diversity. We work for a common purpose—for Jesus, but how we work for that common purpose is different for everyone. Unity and diversity, at the same time.

It’s important to remember that none of the body parts are more important than any of the others. Paul says, “19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21 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.” 22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable…”

No member of the Body of Christ is more important. All are just as important to what Jesus wants us to do—share the Good News of what he’s done for us by dying and rising, to take care of those who need our help. And we all are going to do that differently.

When I was doing some prep work for this sermon, I came across a website called the “Ekklesia Project.” Ekklesia means “church” in Greek. And on this website, there was an article written by Brian Volck. And Brian tells this story:

Last year, while visiting our dear friends, Sandie and Owen, and enjoying an evening of good food and even better conversation, Jill, my wife, said, only half in jest, “When I look at what other people accomplish, I can’t help thinking about all those other things I should be doing: working to stop the death penalty, saving starving children, reading the best books, having informed opinions.”

Sandie paused a moment to ponder Jill’s concerns, and said, “All those things are important, but we’re all part of the body of Christ, and we have a role, however small. So what if you’re the nose hair? You’re there for a purpose. You may not have any idea what good you’re doing, but that’s still your job: to be a nose hair in the body of Christ.”

It’s OK to be the nose hair! Actually, nose hair has a big job to do. Anyone know why we have nose hair and what it does…? It is actually at the first line of the body’s defense system. It helps keep pollen, allergens, and bacteria and viruses out. That’s not to say that we never get sick, but we would get sicker a whole lot more often if it wasn’t for our nose hair. And, our nose hair actually adds humidity to the air we breathe in. Mucus and hair actually provide heat and moisture, so that our nasal passages don’t dry out and become infected.

Now when someone asks you what you did in church today, you can tell them that you sang “Head, and Shoulders, Knees and Toes” and then-- you learned what nose hair does. They’ll think you’re nuts!

The nose hair thing is really important, though. It doesn’t matter how small your role is in the Body of Christ. Your role is just as important as anyone else’s. No one would think our nose hair does anything useful. But it actually has a very important role in how the body functions as a whole.  

To put it in the realm of real people, everyone’s role in the Body of Christ is important. There are no roles that are more important than others. People think being a pastor is more important. It’s not. I, and Pastor Randy, aren’t more important in the Body of Christ. We just have a different role. We all are equally important in serving God and sharing in the mission of Jesus Christ.

So how do we know what body part we are? How do you know what YOUR personal role is, in the Body of Christ? I’m so glad you asked!

In our reading from last week, which, incidentally, was right before this reading in First Corinthians, Paul talks about spiritual gifts. This is also in chapter 12. He says, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed… Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.”

So spiritual gifts are special abilities given freely by the Holy Spirit, to each member of the body of Christ, in order to fulfill the mission of the Church. And we heard some of the spiritual gifts that Paul talks about—wisdom, knowledge, miracles, discernment, tongues, prophecy, etc. This is not an exhaustive list. We hear of many other spiritual gifts in the Bible. I’ve seen as many as 30 different gifts listed, all different, all needed in the Body of Christ.

And everyone has a different spiritual gift set given to them by God. YOU were given spiritual gifts, special abilities, to use as part of Christ’s mission here on earth. That’s pretty cool. You may already know some of those gifts. You may be good at encouraging someone when they are down. You may be good at teaching people. You may be good at doing behind the scenes things to make an event a success. All gifts are equally important, and we all are given different gifts to serve God.

Paul says in our reading from today, “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?”

The answer to his questions are of course….? No. Not all people are apostles. Not all people are teachers. Not all people speak in tongues. But some of us do have these gifts. And all of us are given different gifts to use. All of us have special abilities given to us by the Holy Spirit, to use, as Paul says, “for the common good.”

So what does that look like? It’s when you use your spiritual gifts to the glory of God. It’s when you use them at Zion, in our community, in our world. Paul says “strive for the greater gifts.” It is those gifts that are used to build up the Body of Christ, to work for Jesus in our world by spreading the good news and sharing God’s love with others. THAT’S working for the common good, doing what God calls YOU, personally to do.

So today, I invite you to think about what special gifts God has given you. What is one of your spiritual gifts, a special ability, that God has given you? How can you use that gift this week in a special way, to furthur the mission of Jesus Christ and build up the Body of Christ? Think about it, and do it. Live out what Jesus is calling YOU to do. Amen?

Posted by: AT 08:25 am   |  Permalink   |  Email

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Zion Lutheran Church
9535 Clarence Center Road

PO Box 235
Clarence Center, NY 14032
Phone: 716-741-2656

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