Prayer for Christian Unity
God our Father, your Son Jesus prayed that his followers might be one. Make all Christians one with him as he is one with you, so that in peace and concord we may carry to the world the message of your love, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, Amen.
Prayer for Renewal
O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served, and to give his life for the life of the world. Lead us by his love to serve all whom the work offers no comfort and little help. Through us give hope to the hopeless, love to the unloved, peace to the troubled, and rest to the weary, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
Hymns in Evangelical Lutheran Worship about Community in Christ/Unity
Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word ELW 517
Praise the One Who Breaks the Darkness ELW 843
This is My Song ELW 887
We All Are One in Mission ELW 576
Bless Now O God, the Journey ELW 326
For All the Faithful Women ELW 419
God of Tempest, God of Whirlwind ELW 400
Let Us Talent and Tongues Employ ELW 674
Lord Jesus, You Shall Be My Song ELW 808
Lord, You Give the Great Commission ELW 579
Now Thank We All Our God ELW 839
O Christ, the Healer, We Have Come ELW 610
The Church of Christ, In Every Age ELW 729
Through the Night of Doubt and Sorrow ELW 327
What a Fellowship, What a Joy Divine ELW 774
Acts 1:14 “All were constantly devoting themselves to prayer.”
One of the popular ideas years ago was for a group of people to pick a time of day and each day stop doing whatever they were doing and pray for the concerns of the group, both known and those known only to God. Someone shared that she was carpooling with someone in such a group to a lunch meeting and as they pulled into the parking lot, an alarm went off. The person put the car into park and said, “Excuse me, but every day at 12:12 I pray for our group. You are welcome to join me. I will be a few minutes.” And just like that, the person bowed their head in silent prayer.
The lunch meeting was at 12:15. The person made a conscious choice to stop anyway and honor this collective task. There was incredible power for them in knowing that at the same time, wherever the others were, they too were praying for the needs of the community. They may be praying differently, they were clearly in different locations, and yet they were being “all” together. Somehow bound up in the Spirit.
One of the practices of Lent that are intended to draw us closer to God, and each other, is prayer. What does it mean to be constant? How about a simple commitment to a time of day each day for the season of Lent?
Perhaps you will ask a few friends or family to set aside a time to be in prayer “together” like the 12:12 group.
Perhaps you might take home the prayer list from worship and pray for those we have named. Perhaps you will notice how long it takes to do this with intention - does it make you think of those people more clearly? Perhaps you do not know the person. Fear not, God does and when we do not know the exact words, the Spirit promises to intercede. But just saying their name to God reminds us we are all God’s beloveds.
If the weather is nice, perhaps you can pray for the creation you are experiencing, remembering we are all a part of God’s creation.
In a world where we feel do easily disconnected, imagine breaking through those separations
Lord, may the words of our lips and meditations of our hearts be acceptable to you. Amen.
Rev. Carolyn Hetrick
22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
His name is Jordan. Like the river split by Joshua – no, Elijah. Like the place where Spirit met Man and claimed Him. Perhaps like the site in Israel with the clear running Waters and the giftshop selling this holy Water in a bottle. Or perhaps more like where the tour guide takes you, the almost-creek so muddy you lose sight of the person dipped in the Water, baptized under the watch of an armed Palestinian soldier.
Jordan was the first black person I met at Grace, a beloved, unhoused Guest seeking sleep Out of the Cold. As I contemplate the One Body of Christ, I wonder about skin-deep melanin and centuries-deep injustice and whether Grace resembles the Kingdom of God or a country club. When it’s reported the ELCA is the whitest denomination in the US, they don’t mean our sanctuary walls.
I pray not to be like Moses, glimpsing a land of chocolate milk and honey he would never reach. I pray not to be like Joshua, convinced that the promised land can be obtained over the dead bodies of the “Other.” I pray to be like John, calling out to you.
Listen. Come to the Jordan. Love your brothers and sisters. Love the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites. Our socks will get wet and it will be uncomfortable, but that’s how it is when we wade in the Water. Let us all humbly come together to the blessed Living Water, drink, and have eternal life.
1 Peter 3:8
8 Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind.
Upon returning from a recent trip to Minneapolis, I began to reflect upon the violence that has consumed this community. These crimes committed in the Twin Cities have common themes: senseless, racial intolerance, and injustice. Each person died, mostly at the hands of police, deserved basic respect and better treatment from the authorities and community members.
Peter wrote to Christians reminding them that because they are in relationship with each other, they should treat others as Christ has treated them. We all walk a path with similar and basic expectations, but our journey is not the same. Our upbringing, economics, and even the color of our skin has influenced our course. There are twists and turns, inclines, forks, rocks, and even holes that require us to find a way out. Prejudices, economic instability, entitlement, and intolerance seem to cloud our hearts, minds, and actions. The common factor for all of us is our relationship with Christ. As you journey, treat others as you wish to be treated, have sympathy, be humble, and a tender heart for all people. The roadmap for our journey begins by looking within ourselves to strengthen our relationship with Jesus.
The people of Minneapolis are struggling with constant turmoil in their community. The people feel that authorities are making senseless decisions, so they react by using their voices and actions to peacefully protests, demonstrate and riot, hold memorials, and graffiti the spaces around them. At first glance, the solutions seem so far apart, but a closer and personal look tells us the answer is within and begins one heart at a time.
Please help us to strengthen our relationship with you. Help us to enact peace in a community where injustice dominates. Use our sympathy, tender hearts, humble minds, and love for one another as our guide to do your will.
In your name, Amen
I spent a season leading worship at a campground just off the Appalachian Trail, where Sunday worship was held in a steel fab shed whose massive sliding doors I heaved open as I set up 15 folding chairs and moved a podium with a faded cardboard Easter lily thumbtacked to it. On hot days, an oscillating stand fan did its best. In cool weather, I could start the wood stove. There were the “regulars” whose campers were full every weekend in the season, and those just passing through. The campground owners wanted to offer worship since they could not get away to go to their Lutheran Church, cheerily proclaiming, “And after all, wherever two or three are gathered in my name, it is church!”
No one sat in the front row of chairs, one indication that wherever we gather our church practices are universal. But over the course of a six- month season, with regulars and others, we saw we all belonged together in Jesus. Someone asked if I would stop by a camper where a couple was having a problem because they sure could use prayer. A precocious 9 year-old asked if he could help as his grandparents beamed that maybe someday he could be a preacher, and somehow this female seminary student was his mentor. Once church stopped because the pouring down rain on a metal roof drowned all sound out and we sat marveling at the God of creation, while giving thanks for the sturdy roof with no leaks before continuing. The strength of our gathered prayers grew as we became open to mutual consolation and celebration for good test results and more. One Sunday the electronic BINGO sign on the wall spontaneously lit up behind me while I was preaching, and it caught our breath and tickled our fancy at what God was up to. Once, a large Mennonite family cautiously entered worship and we had to stop and set up 20 chairs, start over and give thanks they drew near with us. That week we had 40!
I, like all of us, want to imagine “church” and being “together” in the ways of my choosing. Jesus often surprises me, reminding that most of all, the most important thing is his presence and God will fill us wherever we gather.
Gather us Lord Jesus as your own. Amen.
Rev. Carolyn Hetrick
Praise the Lord!
Psalm 149: 1, 3-4
1 Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the faithful.
3 Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre.
4 For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with victory.
Psalm 149 begins with a command reminding us to “Praise the Lord!” Why? Because even God desires praise, just like our children, our families, and friends. God wants to hear our praise, our acknowledgement of how wonderful he is. Over the last year, I have noticed myself saying on occasion that I was “lucky” when speaking of some fortunate development in my life. I have been on a campaign to stop that and instead praise God for the good fortune, since He is the one who really deserves the credit – not some random stroke of “luck”.
God does so many wonderful things for us, and he wants to hear from us. We all can remember a time when we completed some project – a work of art, a story, a craft, a new recipe – and could not wait to share it with someone special to us. We are special to God, and he wants to share his love with us. This Psalm reminds us that God takes pleasure in his people. He wants to be with us!
We join together with other believers in the act of worship each Sunday. The Psalm mentions praising God by singing new songs, making music with instruments, and dancing. This description reminds us that worship with our fellow Christians is not an obligation, but a joyful and passionate expression of our love and adoration for our God. Worship is to be filled with life and celebration – an expression of our deep joy for fellowship with God and each other. We are to create new songs and beautiful music. We are to dance with joy for the opportunity to praise God together.
We are assured in Matthew 18:20 that whenever two or three of us are gathered, the Lord is there with us. To join together with each other in the presence of God is a very inspiring and joyful experience that feeds us all and brings us into the holy community of being one with each other and with our God. In this we all truly become “One Body in Christ”. Praise the Lord!
One of the most profound pieces of advice while I was doing Title IX advocacy work is to reject the idea that you need to find value in the people you’re advocating for. By this, my supervisors meant that it can be more harmful than helpful to use the “this person could be your mother, your sister, your child” thought process. While it helps us to activate our empathy, it also opens up a lot of doors -- what if this person doesn’t remind me of anyone in my life? What if I don’t agree with their life choices? What if I feel like this person is genuinely, deeply, truly different from myself, in every possible way? Ultimately, people deserve care, help, and support, regardless of how I see them.
There are so many judgments that pop up in my head that I wasn’t even aware of, until I was challenged to disrupt them. I am constantly placing myself at the center of the world, and mistakenly believe that I have the power to determine if others are worthy of being in that world with me.
As I think about the concept of being “one body of Christ”, I consider how I create false separations between myself and others. How I try to find value in others based on their purpose to me. How my social media is saturated with videos of disabled folks doing things that are meant to inspire me. How I tell my students that they’re smart in spite of their lower grades, when really the grades I give them don’t actually determine their intelligence one way or another. How the person behind the counter who messed up my order deserves kindness and a tip regardless.
It is challenging for me to see everyone as deserving of care, simply because they are. Not because they provide me a service, or a good feeling, or care, or a sense of familiarity. But because God loves them just as He loves me, with all my imperfections. Not because they could be my mother, sister, child, but because we are the same, one body, whether I accept it or not -- that’s what I’m trying to remind myself this season, when I think of truly being one body of Christ.
Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
I had decided that I really didn’t have anything meaningful to add to the Devotional Book this year. Then two events happened last week that made an impact on me that I wanted to share. The close friend of a close friend of mine decided that there was nothing left to live for and acted accordingly. Everyone who knew her was shocked, upset and distraught. What could we have done? Why didn’t we know? And finally, what can we do going forward so others don’t feel so alone, helpless and despairing?
The second event was totally different. I was scanning Facebook and found a post from one of my daughter’s friends. She is suffering from some physical problems that numerous doctors have been unable to solve. Her response log was long and filled with posts of support and promises of prayer and advice. Way down near the bottom of the list was one that said, “come to church with me and we will all pray together.”
In this “Time of COVID”, many days I feel like I can’t do or sign up for one more thing. And that’s true. But what if it is the little thoughtful things that make a difference, too? A few weeks ago, the person in the car in front of me paid for my lunch! I smiled all the way home. And that was the first thing I shared at dinner when asked about my day.
The waitress at a restaurant today told my daughter she had beautiful eyes – she is still smiling. Someone I work with at Scraps & Skeins is out for a while (we share some funny little jokes) so I sent her a card with just the punch line of our favorite and I got a string of laughing emoji’s back on Facebook.
I know that none of these things will solve the pandemic nor take away the pain and suffering of so many. But isn’t it also true that when two or more gather in His name, He is there?
How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
We recently returned from a trip to Antarctica. While I don’t know the religious background of our fellow travelers, the demographics of the group were such (members of various US higher education alumni groups whose average age was likely about 70) that it seems reasonable that many would have claimed “Christian” as their religious affiliation, if asked.
We were definitely “kindred” spirits living in unity for 10 days on a ship together. Strangely, doing that during COVID both created more and less unity simultaneously. We were brought together by our desire to see the awesome work of God that is the pristine environment in Antarctica. We endured many COVID restrictions and costs to do that. Masking and social distancing requirements made socializing a bit cumbersome, but all of us made new friends during the trip. We recognized that while we came from different schools and states, we all were brought together by the experience. Our expedition crew came from many different nations and backgrounds (from scientific/research types to a folklorist), but their passion for the Antarctic environment led to them functioning as a unified team that enhanced the experience for all the passengers aboard.
After seeing the landscape and wildlife in that ecosystem, all of us were filled with a sense of wonder and humbled by the power and resilience of the natural world. While maybe only some viewed that through the lens of a benevolent creator, all left with a greater understanding of the delicate balance required to sustain the natural world. The crew implored everyone to be an ambassador for the Antarctic, very much inline with scripture that reminds us that we are to be good stewards of this wonderful world that God provided for us.
Thank you for the world you made for us. Help us to remember that you expect us to be good stewards of our home and to do all we can to pass it along for future generations to thrive on it. Provide discernment to leaders, spokespeople and ambassadors to find ways to work in unity to allow a good and pleasant life for all on earth now and in the future.
Bearing one another’s burdens
“So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.”
The members and programs of Grace Lutheran Church have helped so many. Some of them bear my burdens, lightening my load. On Sundays, my mom, who lives in one of the Juniper homes, gets a phone call from a church member. It all started a couple of years ago, when Mom could chat and enjoy talking about the sermon-on-the-radio. Now, she has trouble getting her nouns correct, and she barely remembers the sermon when it is over, but the social contact through that one phone call brightens her day. Her care-givers comment on how she tells them that SHE got a phone call; Mom shares this happiness, brightening their day for a few moments. And so it passes on …
The Grace Lutheran Church Card Ministry is another important program that brightens my day. Taking a card to my mom is a thrill in itself; she says, “For ME?” in that happy voice that no one can mistake. I open the card, read it to her, then she handles it with joy. She’ll open it again, because she forgets she can’t read (she is severely blind now), then holds the picture or drawing right up to her nose, where she can often discern the shape or imagine the color. She keeps the card for several days before giving it back to me. Her housekeepers love those cards, and they tell me about how the cards cheer THEM up (I think that Mom’s pleasure makes them happy, too!). And so, it passes on …
Just being in my life, the church helps to bear my burden and lighten my load. Thank goodness that the people of GLC say, “Hi!” to me in line at Giant. They don’t know me, except that they’ve seen me at church or in the choir; but they took the time to figure that out. In that moment, I feel so blessed, and blessed that I get to sing (thank you, Laurel) at church. Others ask about my husband and offer their support and prayers. They have “taken the chance to do good” by just being themselves, being thoughtful and supportive. This helps me to smile and take a deep breath and realize that I AM NOT ALONE. And so it passes on …
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help.
3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
The past two years have forced us all to rethink what we are doing in this world. Part of the rethink is dealing with isolation. How do we connect with others and who needs that connection? We realized that we all need the social interaction that has been taken away.
While our pastoral care has been exemplary during these tough times, each individual is involved with the care process. Through Bible verses such as Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 and Philippians:3-4, God gives us some thoughts on how we can view our relationships with others and lead us toward the One Body in the church family.
Having someone there to help us when we fall has been so important in my family and we see this in our congregation. Conversations can get us on the right track and keep us headed that way. Turning to God is a first step in our quest for finding the right path that puts others first in our thoughts and teaching us the value of love in our lives, making us all One Body in Christ.
For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.
In one of our children’s books of stories from different regions of the world there is a tale from Bali called “Grumpy Gecko” that came to mind when I pondered this reading from Romans 12:4-5. The Gecko was grumpy because he could not sleep due to the incessant flashing on an off of the fireflies’ lights. He went to Tiger, chief of the jungle, to complain and ask him to do something about it. Tiger investigated and as he talked to each animal in the jungle community, he discovered how each is connected to the other and that they each performed a function that was vital to life in their community. He connected the fireflies flashing lights back to the creation of habitat for the mosquitos…the very thing that Gecko eats to survive! After Tiger informed Gecko of this connection, Gecko decided to sleep upside down underneath a branch of a tree so he would not be bothered by the fireflies’ blinking lights.
So, as members of the Christian faith community, we all have different jobs and functions, but they all are connected in the one body of Christ. Just like God created animals in nature to perform different functions that are connected in the work of the ecosystem as a whole, we all were given special gifts that work with other people’s special gifts to create a community that can carry out God’s will in the world.
What are your special gifts? What are the special gifts of your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors?
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for our community of faith connected in the one body of Christ. Please help us to see our special gifts and how they can be used to do your will on earth. Please also help us to recognize the special gifts of the people around us. Amen.
Sweeter than Honey
“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103)
One of my future life goals is to be a beekeeper. I had the chance this past September to experience a taste of this when I spent a few days with Father Michael Casagram, the head beekeeper at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky.
Father Michael has an intense love for the bees and their ability to live and work in community. Each bee has a special job to complete, and it’s only when they work together that they are able to produce that miraculous honey we all know and love. No one bee can do that alone! Father Michael told me how very special he felt to be welcomed by the bees into that little community of unity and purpose. He doesn’t wear any protective gear when he tends the hives, because in his experience, when he is truly at peace, the bees somehow sense this, and do not regard him as a threat.
He challenged me to try this when we visited the hives together. I do not have any meaningful experience with beekeeping, but I trusted Father Michael’s advice and concentrated on projecting a sense of calm and love toward the bees as we disassembled and reassembled the hives to check on overall colony health. I’m happy to report that I survived the experience with no stings, and I am very eager to spend more time with these amazing creatures.
The same tends to be true in our human communities. If we approach a family gathering or a church congregation with a spirit of confrontation or agitation, that’s exactly what we are going to experience. Those feelings of disunity quickly become viral. But if we can approach our communities with a spirit of peace and love, we create an environment in which that peace and love can grow. That’s what Jesus longs for us to experience – a unity and harmony that is even sweeter than honey.
Lord, help me to be an instrument of your peace and harmony, working with my neighbor in community to produce joy that is sweeter than honey. Amen.
Rev. Scott E. Schul
I like to bake but am not always organized. I find myself sometimes scrambling with substitutions, hoping it somehow all holds together. More than one muffin has a ragged bottom because I wanted to love my people, but I grew impatient. Does it mean I don’t love them enough to get it right? I sure hope not. A lot of love has come from my kitchen even if it will not make a baking show. These flawed works somehow are beautiful in God’s hands.
In 2000, the late bell hooks wrote “All About Love,” saying that to truly love we must learn to mix all the ingredients. Translating that baking metaphor, she wrote about love and justice, gender and forgiveness, worthiness and family, things Ephesians says we are created for in Christ to be our way of life. Laylah Ayatollah Barren, a documentary photographer and writer decided to ask people to tell such stories in their photos of being together with beloveds which she captured in “Love in Black- a Portrait Story.” Vignettes from people far away brought near tell their way of life.
“Love is a resting place…a chance to show up as you are in front of your beloved…to accept the human nature of self and others. Love understands that people are often angry or afraid or sad and offers us the grace to figure it out. - Radhiyah Ayobami
“Love is all the warm fuzzy feelings that we know of it...and it is a continuous decision. Duty sustains love and in faith, God joins it all together and fills in the gaps.”- Said Jonas and Robert Salomon Kiongo Bankousssou
“In this photo you just see me. You don’t see my 7-year-old who happily helped me get dressed…my partner who after a long day of work drove me to the beach…my good friend who always has the biggest laugh and encouraging words…my friend whose smile will make your heart melt… This is not a photo of me… it captures a moment where people were in the midst of producing love. I am thankful that I was present and able to recognize and receive it.” - Tanika “Tree” Williams
Prayer- Lord who created us in love for love, draw us near to your love in the cross. Form our way of life and fill our gaps with your grace. Amen.
Rev. Carolyn Hetrick
1 Peter 4: 8-10
8 Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaining.
10 Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.
These scriptures spoke to me as a reminder of the difficult times and sufferings we have experienced in these two years of struggling with the pandemic of Covid-19 and the effects on our persons.
Isolation is the most significant issue to affect each and every one of us.
Therefore, as the scripture states we should maintain constant love for one another. One of the ways I adopted through these trying times has been to make frequent phone visits to friends, neighbors, and family members expressing our thoughts and concern for their well-being.
To me this is an expression of love and serve one another as good stewards of the grace of God.
Prayer: Dear God, today help me to be a good steward of your grace and show one another the love that we can share.
“For everyone born, a place at the table,
to live without fear, and simply to be,
to work, to speak out, to witness and worship,
for everyone born, the right to be free,
and God will delight when we are creators
of justice and joy, compassion and peace” ~ Shirley Erena Murray
It doesn’t surprise me at all that when thinking about the topic of “The One Body of Christ” I immediately began humming. Several tunes sprung to mind, but the lyrics above really spoke to me. They are from the song “For Everyone Born, a Place at the Table” by Shirley Erena Murray. I have never actually sung this song. The Bells of Grace was preparing to play this piece in the Spring of 2020. It’s a challenging piece filled with accidentals, time signature changes, and syncopated rhythms. All of that technical jargon simply translates to “confusing, difficult, and frustrating.”
In an attempt to seek joy in playing this piece, I dove into reading the lyrics and listening to the tune. While some of the lyrics may feel a bit outdated (the hymn is now 24 years old and language is alive and changing), the verse quoted above still rings true. When we have the conversation about everyone being a part of the body of Christ, we need to explicitly state who those people are: the LGBTQIA+ community; Black, Brown, Indigenous, and People of Color; people with disabilities; Neuro-Diverse folks; those who are poor; immigrants; and other marginalized groups. Historically, those in positions of power have continually sought to “other” those who are different in some way.
Jesus extends the command at the Last Supper for us to love one another as He has loved us. There are no asterisks attached to this commandment. He doesn’t say to only love your neighbors who look like you, think like you, worship like you, or love like you. Everyone is worthy of a place at the table, life without fear, and the right to be…just as God has made them.
Spirit of Life and Love, empower us to invite everyone born to your table. Guide us to seek knowledge and understanding without judgment. Help us to delight in the beautiful diversity of your creation. Amen.
Sarah Rodgers (she/her)
The Body of Christ is alive and well wherever we go!
Due to God’s calling, my parents left my community of baptism and I ended up attending and experiencing worship and activities of many churches by living in three different states as a child and teenager, and then in two more states while following my husband in his career. Each church had one thing in common: To minister to those in need and to spread the God News! While methodology may have differed, they set an example of Roman 12:4-5, “For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members of one of another.”
Because I had to leave my extended family where I was born and again when I married, the church became like a family to me. The elders who taught catechism, the Sunday School teachers who taught the stories of strong Biblical role models, and the youth leaders who taught how to incorporate my religion into my daily life, supplemented the prayers and bible readings at each meal every day at home.
After high school, the challenges of nursing school tested everything I was taught but everything I was taught gave me strength to resist the peer pressures that come to a young adult. Finally, traveling 3000 miles away from everything I knew, I found a community of faith in a church that challenged the parts of my religion and beliefs that were perhaps not so good. There were walls of prejudice that had to be torn down. I am forever grateful to that community for being patient with me as I grieved and let go of those feelings deep inside of me.
Returning to the East, I found a church that welcomed my family and helped me to continue to grow in a faith that made me more sensitive to others and what they needed. In Grace, I found a church to be just as supportive and educational and willing to accept my gifts and services as I use what I have learned over the years to be a part of the body of Christ.
The church as a body extends throughout the world, feeding and molding us as we age and life changes.
Prayer: Lord, help keep our church alive in service to you, here and around the world! Amen!
Phyllis L. Verderame
For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.
In the movie based on the book by Madeleine L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time there is one scene of a neighborhood where all the houses are exactly the same. And at each house on the driveway was a little child bouncing a ball at the same time. Each bounce was perfectly in sync with the other bounces. And then a mom appeared from inside each house at the same time and clapped (at the same time of course) for the little child to come in the house. It was rather disturbing! Is that what we would have to become to be in unity? To be one body in Christ?
No! I think not! Romans 12:4-5 and also I Corinthians 12:12-27 provides us with the picture of unity as a human body. We are all different and all have different functions. Each one of us has different gifts to provide to the whole body. Each function is needed and important as I Corinthians describes the different members (hands, feet, eyes, ears) all working together in the human body.
Logically, since we are all different, just like parts of the body, there needs to be a uniting force to keep us together and working. As mentioned in the scriptures, that uniting force is Jesus Christ. His love and examples of how to love our neighbor are the glue that unites us together and allows us to work as one in mission regardless of our different skills and interests.
In order to accomplish Jesus’ mission, we need to work together. Can you think of other examples in nature or elsewhere that God has given us of different members working together as one to accomplish a goal or mission?
Prayer: Dear God, please help us to learn from each other and from examples you have given us in the Bible and in our lives of how to work together to accomplish your will on earth. Please let us see the value and gifts of others and of ourselves and how they can come together in love for all. Amen.
1 How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
This passage and 1 Corinthians 12:26-27, are the basis for “Blest Be the Tie that Binds.”
1 Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love;
the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.
2 Before our Father's throne we pour our ardent prayers;
our fears, our hopes, our aims are one, our comforts and our cares.
3 We share our mutual woes, our mutual burdens bear,
and often for each other flows the sympathizing tear.
The body of Christ is bound together by love. The second and third stanzas elaborate on the idea of suffering and rejoicing together. It concludes with the hope that this unity will not be permanently broken by death or parting. Paul wrote in Corinthians a short section on the unity and diversity of the body of Christ with this thought: “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it”
The author, Dr. John Fawcett had become an orphan at the age of twelve, and was largely self-educated. He was converted by the preaching of George Whitefield at the age of sixteen and began preaching soon thereafter. In 1765 Fawcett was called to a small, poor, Baptist country church in Wainsgate, Yorkshire. Seven years later he received a call from the large and influential Carter's Lane Church in London, England. Fawcett accepted the call and preached his farewell sermon. The day of departure came, and his family's belongings were loaded on carts, but the distraught congregation begged him to stay. This favorite hymn is said to have been written in 1772, to commemorate the determination of its author to remain with his attached people at Wainsgate. When love and tears prevailed, Dr. Fawcett sacrificed the attraction of a London pulpit to the affection of his poor but devoted flock where he remained despite other offers to advance himself.
Gracious God, we thank you for your love that binds us to you and to each other. Help us to share in our joys and sorrows knowing our hope lies in you. Amen.
Rev. Carolyn Hetrick
The people of Grace reflect on the One Body of Christ for the 2022 Lenten Devotional. Each day's devotional will be automatically posted so come back daily for a new reflection.