Tag Archives: the body of Christ

One Bread, One Body

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This contemporary song was written by John B. Foley, professor of Liturgy at St. Louis University.  It is often used on Lutheran Via de Cristo weekends and beautifully expresses the ideal of unity in the Body of Christ, His Church.

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Your Calling

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“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”  Ephesians 4:1

I hear quite a few people speak about their church as if they are merely consumers, making a choice about what is best for them.  They belong to a church for reasons like these:

  • I love the Pastor
  • It has a great youth program for my kids
  • The music is fantastic
  • My friends go there

I’ve also heard people reject a church because:

  • I don’t feel uplifted
  • I’m not being fed spiritually
  • I don’t like someone who is a member
  • I prefer a different kind of music

Now I am not saying there is anything wrong with loving your Pastor, the music, the programs or the people in your church.  There is something wrong with making a choice that’s all about you.  I personally believe that the lay people of the congregation are called to be there every bit as much as the Pastor.  We’re part of the body of Christ.  We all have gifts and talents to build up the body.  We’re all needed.  We are to be worthy of that calling.

That means our choice of a congregation should be based, in great part, on where God is calling us to serve.  It means once we have accepted our call, we need to be humble and bear with others even when we don’t agree with them.  It means we don’t change congregations just because we liked the old Pastor better;  we don’t get mad and leave in a snit.  We settle in, we become family and we work together.

“Look careful then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best of the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”  Ephesians 4:15-17

You’ve been called.  Are you blooming where you are planted?  Are you walking in a worthy manner?  Are you God’s servant in the place He has placed you?  Or are you just a religious consumer?

I’m in the Lord’s Army

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I just saw a funny cartoon on Pinterest  It showed the Simpsons reading a letter.  The caption says, “It’s from our church.  We’ve been called up for active service.”  This may make you chuckle, but as laity, it’s perfectly true.  When we become members of the body of Christ, we’re on duty for life.  We’re never too young or too old to do our part.  We never retire.

There’s a Sunday School Song I used to sing with my daughters that’s a good reminder.  It brings back happy memories, so I hope you’ll enjoy it, too.

 

New Month/New Theme

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On the 4th of July Americans celebrate the union of our states, so it was suggested that the Lutheran Ladies think and post this month on the topic of unity.  That gives us lots of ideas to explore.  The trinity is a mysterious union of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The Church has been described as a body –the union of many parts, working together.  It has also been described as Christ’s bride, a reminder of the union between man and woman, the two becoming one.

So ladies, what does unity mean to you? What is your understanding of the trinity?  How does unity in the Christian church exist despite a multitude of different denominations and theological ideas?  How do we achieve unity in our local congregation of individual believers with differing abilities, personalities and interests?  What does it mean to become “one flesh” with our spouse? What does it mean to become “one” with Christ? Is unity possible at all in a society that applauds diversity?  I’m sure this month, we’ll be studying our Bibles to find out what God has to say, and I’m sure I’ll be surprised and edified by the variety of responses.

Of course, as always, go where the Holy Spirit leads.  If another topic is on your heart and mind, feel free to post about it.  Ladies, and readers, send us your thoughts, comments and ideas.  We’re waiting to hear from you.

The Gift of ????

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I had to chuckle when I read Leslie’s post about the gift of gab ….that is so not my gift, although it’s one I admire and sometimes wish I had.  I’m a quiet introvert, so I guess my gift is …. holding my tongue?  …..listening? ….silence?  What would be the opposite of gab?

My gift can get me in trouble, too.  Sometimes I don’t speak up when I should.  Sometimes people misperceive me as snobby or aloof or unfriendly.   Sometimes I think of just the right words of sympathy or encouragement …just a little too late.

It’s easy to envy somebody else’s gift, but it’s a bad way to spend my time.  Isn’t it better to give thanks for the wide variety of talents and personalities God has created?  When we get together with someone who has different abilities than we do, great things happen.  We complement each other.  We balance things out.  We can accomplish things together that we couldn’t do alone.  God planned it that way.

“But, as it is, God arranged the members of the body, each one of them, as he chose.  If all were one member, where would be body be?  As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”  1 Corinthians 12: 18-20

It’s Ok to Say No

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“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.'” 1 Corinthians 12:21

One thing it’s hard for us to learn, and especially for women, I think, is it’s ok to say “no” sometimes.  If you are a people-pleaser, like I am, you want to say “yes” so people will like you.  You don’t want to let people down.  Our culture also tells us we can have it all and do it all:  we can be wives and mothers, CEO’s and caretakers, and creative artists all at the same time.  Frankly, it’s not true, and it can be a set up for failure.

So,  we have to be good stewards of our time as well as our money.  One time to say no, is if we’re ask to do something that is clearly outside of our skill set.  For example, I’m not detail oriented, so if I’m asked to be the church treasurer or organize a big fundraiser, I need to say no.  That is the choice that will work to everyone’s benefit!

There may be seasons in our lives when we’re overwhelmed with responsibilities at home or at work.  When I was a mother of two very young children, I chose to be on the Altar Guild instead of serving on the Church Council.  An hour of alone time setting up communion was just what I needed, and all the time I had to give.  Saying no for a while, doesn’t mean saying no forever.  The time came when I went back to “active duty.”

Another important thing to remember about saying no, is it gives somebody else a chance to say yes.  There may be another member of the body who has just the right combination of talents to do the work you can’t.  Others will never get a chance to stretch and grow if you think you have to do it all.

Finally, when you take on a challenging task  that stretches you (and you should do this at times), pick something that matches your abilities, and ask for help if you need it.  We are all one body and we’re meant to work together to accomplish God’s work.

The Church Needs You!

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“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.’…But God has so composed the body …that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together;  if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”  1 Corinthians 12:21-26

Last month I fell down some steps and stubbed my big toe.  It hurt badly for weeks.  I hobbled around, unable to take my daily walks or vacuum.  I had a hard time walking through the grocery store to buy groceries, and there was no way once I purchased them to get them up the stairs to our condo without help.  I couldn’t climb onto my step stool to put things away on the higher shelves in the kitchen. A toe seems like a pretty insignificant part of the body, but that sore toe threw a big monkey wrench into my usual life and activities.

The verses from Corinthians tell us the same thing is true of Christ’s body, the church.  Maybe you think the Pastor or the members of the Church Council or the Elders are the ones to count on.  We do need them.  But we also need the folks who clean the kitchen, weed the flowers, sing, buy office supplies, etc.. Even those who are older or disabled can pray, send cards, or make phone calls. Did you ever stop to think how many people are involved in making Sunday worship services happen?  Ushers, greeters, readers, musicians, acolytes, cleaners, copiers, the altar guild…you get the idea.  Church happens when each of us does our part.

So be part of the body.  We need hands and feet, heads and toes.  There is something you can do.

 

Gifts for the Church

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In his first letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul tells us that each person has at least  one spiritual gift (1 Cor. 12:7), and that every gift is valuable and equally important to the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:21-30). 

 In our humanness we may find this hard to accept.  I have always admired (and if the truth be told, sometimes envied) those who have one spiritual gift that stands out and defines their Christian journey of sanctification and service.  These people are the long distance runners of the church.  Folks like the church musicians who sing on the choir or play the organ for a lifetime; the dedicated teachers who serve in the Sunday School for years and years, praying for and inspiring their students; or the talented workers who can paint, build or fix almost anything around the church building.

 I guess I’m more of a sprinter.  In my years as a Christian and active church member I’ve done all sorts of jobs, big and small.  I’ve served on the church council and cooked soup for Lenten dinners; I’ve led Sunday School classes for children and retreats for adults; I’ve been an altar guild member and a newsletter editor.   I do a task for a while and then my gift cluster or my life circumstances seem to morph and change and I feel compelled to move onto something else.  Yet there is a part of me that wants to find my one true vocation and stick to it.

 Recently I was bemoaning this to my husband.  “Why can’t I find that special gift that God wants me to use?” I asked.  Terry thought about that for a while and finally said, “Honey, maybe you should think of yourself as a utility player.”  Not being a big sports fan, I had to look into what a utility player is.  Here’s what I found out.   Utility players are seldom stars, but they are competent at a number of things.  They can fill into different areas as needed and do just fine.  Utility players may not be well known to the fans, but they can be extremely valuable to the coach.  They help keep the team going, especially when a key player is injured or unable to play. 

 Since then, I’ve felt better about my role.  Saint Paul was right; we need long distance runners but we also need sprinters.    We need amazing batters and pitchers and we need competent utility players.  A free and living congregation needs us all.

“But in fact, God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.  If they were all one part, where would the body be?”  1 Cor. 12: 1

Originally published in The Lutheran Ambassador.

Free to Be Me

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“For the body does not consist of one member, but of many.  If the foot should say, ’Because I am a foot, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body.  And if the ear should 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 be the sense of hearing?  If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?  But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each of them, as He chose.”  1 Cor. 12:14-18

 Listening to the world often makes us feel inadequate.  There is always someone smarter, richer, more talented, or more beautiful. Christians are not immune to those feelings although we may judge ourselves by different standards – we’re not as generous, as pious as well-read in the Scripture as some other Christian we know.  It’s so easy to start striving to become someone we’re not and being dissatisfied with who we are

Whenever I start thinking this way, I try to remind myself that God made me, and I have a purpose to fulfill that only involves being in step with His plans for me.  In his letter to the Ephesians the apostle Paul puts it this way:

“For we His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10

 In Christ we are free to stop trying to be what we’re not.  We are free to stop measuring ourselves by the world’s definition of success. We’re even free to stop worrying about whether we’re as good a person as someone we know. We are free from envying others.  We can rest secure in our identity of beloved child of God. 

 Remember He loves you and so do I!

Forgiveness in the Body of Christ

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Nothing is more wrenching than conflicts within the body of Christ, the church.  The theme verse for the WMF (Women’s Missionary Federation) here at the AFLC conference is “knit together in love through Christ”( Colossians 2:2).  It was also pointed out that the word  “knit” is again used to describe how God created us in our mother’s womb(Psalm 139).  We are meant to be joined with other believers in the same close relationship as the parts of our body come together to make a living organism.  When parts of our physical body, or our church body are not working well together the result is pain.  Listen to what Paul says about a situation like this in the book of Philippians:

“I entreat Eudoia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.  Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers …”

So, if we are to be knit together in love, and as Michele told us her recent post love=forgiveness, then the answer to this kind of situation is simple.  We need to forgive.  That brother or sister in Christ who has hurt us, criticized us, annoyed us, is part of us. Not only that, they’re part of Christ!  We are in the same body.  And what does the Bible say?

For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church. (Ephesians 5:29)

and from Colossians 3:12-14:

Put on the, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other;  as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”

Who do you need to forgive today?