First Congregational Church
Sunday, October 2, 2022
17th Sunday after Pentecost and World Communion Sunday
1 Corinthians 12:1-31
“The Body of Christ”
Rev. Dinah Haag, preaching
It might be that a point could be made to say that cleaning- anything - is a dangerous act. Yes, there are sometimes chemicals involved, sometimes dangerous chemicals, although there are efforts to make less hostile, yet still effective products. But what I’m really talking about is how you are going about the cleaning of the fish tank, going through the linen closets, dusting the dust-ables, and without a second thought you can find yourself not cleaning, but holding and reminiscing about an object that represents a flood of memories.
As you recollect, you turn it over, noticing the intricacies, realizing the cost and worth, and even should the moment be brief, it becomes a nourishment of the soul, a serendipity of grace. I think that’s what we get with today’s scripture passage and the designation of World Communion Sunday; an opportunity to give them a loving look and re-valuation.
1 Corinthians 12:1-31 Spiritual Gifts
Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men people. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body - whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free - and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be?
20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues ? Do all interpret? 31 But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.
Thank you, Susie. I don’t know if this chapter makes the next - the great 1 Corinthians 13 - richer or vice versa. But it makes more sense of love being kind, so as to not hurt the body; of love protecting and trusting, hopeful and perseverant.
The little girl stood before the small civic group on Thursday morning before breakfast, the morning after Hurricane Ian made landfall. The child had brunette pigtail braids, a white dress, and patent leather shoes.
It was your average weekday. Local business people gathered for a quick meeting before going to work. Tired businesspersons sat at small circular tables, wearing sports jackets and neckties, wearing hosiery and skirt suits. I had been invited here by my friend Howie. I was wearing a tie if you can imagine. I was wishing I would have never agreed to come.
When the little girl took the podium, I was wandering through the buffet line, stacking a Styrofoam plate with imitation breakfast fare that tasted more like wet napkins than it did edible organic matter. The little girl tested the sound system by tapping the microphone loudly. The speakers nearly exploded. TAP! TAP! TAP! That got everyone listening.
“Can I have everyone’s attention?” said the master of ceremonies. “We have a special guest here to pray for breakfast today.” He presented 9-year-old Sadie and everyone applauded.
Sadie’s grandmother lives in Fort Meyers, Florida, and nobody has heard from the grandmother yet. Sadie is taking it pretty hard. Her mother is a wreck. Her father has driven down to Fort Meyers to locate the elderly woman. Ever since Ian hit, hundreds are presumed dead in Lee County. Florida is a disaster zone. Everyone bows their heads.
“Dear Lord,” Sadie began. “Please help the people in Florida.” And this is all she says. She’s a kid, not a public speaker, and her words were followed by a long silence. Sadie didn’t really know what to say. Her mother told me that her daughter had not spoken before a crowd this large before. Sadie added nervously, “Help everyone to be okay, God.”
This was followed by another long gap - a quietude that was starting to get pretty awkward until someone in the audience added their words. “God, let Florida’s power come back on soon,” a man said in the back. An older woman in a tweed suit chimed in, “And help the people who drowned, dear God. Help their families find their bodies, and give their families strength to endure the worst.”
“Help my son, Lord,” said one white-haired man. “God. Help Justin and his family get power back on.” A woman with hair that was more blue than white, said, “Father God, grant safety to the linemen and the line women who are trying to restore the power to Lee County, Florida. Guide their hands, and keep them from harm.”
A mid-forties man with cropped red hair and forearms like Virginia hams said, “Help the young woman I saw on the news to find her children, dear Lord. Help that poor, poor family.” “Help all the pets,” said a young professional woman with a blond ponytail. “All those dogs and cats who are confused, wandering around, and don’t know where to go. Please help them.”
“Grant grace to the emergency crews and first responders, God,” said a man who looked like a military guy: crew cut, large shoulders. He looked like he could crush a Buick’s front end with his bare hands. “Help the EMTs, Lord. I know they have their work cut out for them.”
“Please God,” said a guy in the back of the room. “Please let families find their missing people. Please be with all the people who’re looking for someone they love.” This got several yeses from the audience and three amens. “I pray, Lord,” said a young guy with a mullet and a mustache, which is apparently a popular hairstyle again, “that you would let the policemen be taken care of. Those officers get put into some horrible situations, God. Please take care of my brothers. Help them to stay safe in all this mess.”
“Heavenly father,” said one woman. “Watch over my daughter in Southwest Florida. Please. God, if anyone can protect her, it’s you. Please let her call her mother when she gets a moment.” The woman began to cry. Then the whole room went quiet. Nothing can make a room fall silent like a woman’s tears.
A small civic group. A Thursday morning before breakfast. The morning after Hurricane Ian made landfall. Sadie spoke into the microphone like an old pro. “And all God’s people said?” And well, you know the rest.
Regardless of era, or circumstances, the Body of Christ is precious and priceless and deserves our prayers, for those in and those outside the body, because God’s love, well, God’s love.
Words of Institution
Lord of Life and Mercy, forgive us when we think too small, or without humility. Forgive our human nature to pigeonhole, rather than thinking of “hole” with a “w.” We lift up those who are suffering, who are lost and are scared to pieces, including our own selves. May our inward natures cling to the comfort and safety of being part of your body as go out to do the work you have for each of us. And all God’s people say, Amen.
Just the messenger. And the collector and arranger of that which has been received. References available upon request.