Friday, October 7, 2011

If We Are the Body . . .

1 Corinthians 12?13
For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body - whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free - and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

Have you ever felt ostracized? Maybe a friend invited you to a party where you knew nobody and then failed to show up; you felt awkward and out-of-place, especially when no one there even seemed to notice you. Or, perhaps, you were moved to a different department or team at your job and your new co-workers, resentful of the change, chose to ignore you as often as possible.

One vivid memory I have of being shunned was when my family moved toward the end of my third grade year, and I had to transfer to a new school. With the cliques and best friends already carved in stone when I arrived, the children barely acknowledged my existence; they were not about to make the effort to chisel me into their lives. Those were the longest, most miserable weeks before summer I ever spent in school.

In today's verse, Paul is reminding the Corinthians that ostracism hurts. It has no place in the church where everyone has been baptized by the same spirit and each is an integral part of the body of Christ. Tragically, too many modern day churches fail to heed Paul's timeless advice.

The newcomer, already nervous and anxious about visiting a new place of worship, is greeted not by bright smiles and hands extended in welcome, but by judgmental stares and hardened faces.

A loyal and long-time member goes through a divorce, and the very church friends he was depending upon for support turn their backs.

The spiritual seeker who asks too many questions deemed wrong by the powers-that-be is bullied out of the congregation.

The bag lady, homeless and destitute, who pushes the cart which holds her life into the narthex, hoping to find warmth against a freezing winter's day and, perhaps, a friendly word or a steaming cup of coffee, receives, instead, a cold and distant shoulder.

With churches like this, who, in their right mind, would ever desire to be a Christian in community? Who would desire to know the love of a Savior?

Will you pray with me?

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending us your gift of salvation through your precious Son who gave his body that we might become one body with Him. Make us ever mindful that every human being is Your child, deserving respect and dignity and love. So grow the church in the truth of your Word and in the Holy Spirit that it ever shines a beacon of light to a weary world shrouded in darkness, and welcomes all to worship Your glorious name. Amen.

Readings
Psalms 140, 142 or 141, 143
2 Kings 23:36-24:17
1 Corinthians 12:12-25
Matthew 9:27-34

9 comments:

  1. Hi Martha:
    Growing up, I moved around Connecticut just about every three years.
    --Norwich to Farmington
    --Farmington to Norwich
    --Norwich to New Haven
    --New Haven to Branford
    --Branford to Madison

    Ya know what though? All that moving around can one of two things:
    1. Create someone who is constantly on edge, afraid no one will like them because the new kid is always disrupting the status quo

    2. Make someone resilient, never afraid to reach out.

    I chose #2.
    If I wanted to make friends, it was up to me to reach out, and disrupt the status quo, not worrying about stepping into a new environment. The constant moving, made me stronger. I see that as a blessing.

    Once people saw I wasn't afraid to step into long established circles no one ostracized me. That's the blessing.

    I can empathize w/those people on the outside because I was there and it made me a gentle soul, a good friend, someone people could count on. That's the blessing.
    --
    Chris

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  2. Thank you, Chris, for this thoughtful comment. I am so glad to hear that your experience of being "on the outside" gave you a gentle spirit and an ease of friendliness with others. Such a gift!
    I will share that by the next school year, everything went swimmingly for me as friendships "started over"; I was just very shy with all the newness.
    I so appreciate you sharing this with me today!
    Blessings always! :)

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  3. Amen to this post. I always find sustanence in the fact that I belong to him.

    Joy always,
    Susan

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  4. Shunned isn't the word LOLOL..there is a song by "Casting Crowns"called If we are the body..I love it so,...As always...XOXOXOXO

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  5. Were you in Mrs. Powell's third grade class, which became Mrs. Grant's class when Mrs. Powell went on maternity? It was a corner class room next to the lunchroom, diagonally across from the principals office. I remember you well during those years. I can recall that once the kids got to know you, you became one of the most popular kids in school. You were a kid who always carried a smile, and always treated us who were less popular, or who at least thought we were, with kindness. Yes, that is what I remember of Martha Murdy during those years, which recollection might serve as an appendix to your post. Even when we feel ostracized, that may be so that we understand how it feels to others when we ostracize. But the cure for that, on either side of that relationship, is a friendly smile and kindness.

    I knew these ramblings would bring me to a point.

    Thanks for stirring memories, and thanks for the reminder in today's devotion.

    Hank

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  6. Thank you, all, for stopping by today!
    @Susan - isn't it grand knowing we are His children? Amen!
    @Bonnie - We play that song in our praise band - one of my absolute favorites!
    @Hank -Thank you for the memories! Yes, I certainly was welcomed into the fold by fourth grade and just loved W.D. Thompson. I wasn't in Mrs. Powell's class; I actually cannot recall my third grade teacher's name, but I had Mrs. Ratliffe in fourth - loved her! I'm also gratified to know that you remember me as being kind; I remember you as being just a bit shy back then, but not anymore! :)
    Blessings all!!!

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  7. Wow, caused me to have a flash back to my childhood. We moved fairly often, most of the time when I was just starting to fit in. I was a shy skinny girl. Sometimes she tries to come out, but I won't let her as she limits me. I have become happy and secure in Jesus and have learned to be a better person and do right by others who may feel left out. Thank you for your post. Serves to remind me how blessed I am and to be a blessing to others! :)

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  8. @Lily - thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a wonderful comment! So glad to hear that the happiness and security Jesus gives you has helped you to reach out to others who felt as you once did, being left out of the loop. Your words today have certainly been a blessing to me!
    Blessings to you, too! :)

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