How does the moon cut his hair?
and for a moment, everyone in our nation stopped and looked up in the sky and forgot about hate.”
Well, with one notable exception on the Truman Balcony, folks weren’t staring at the sun as much as they were donning special “eclipse glasses” which protected one’s eyes from the extra harmful rays whilst the moon wandered in front of the sun.
These cheap cardboard and plastic glasses were all the rage and, as mentioned in the weekly email, were basically impossible to buy, beg, borrow, or steal leading up to the big event.
Yet, by Monday at 4:00 p.m., you couldn’t give them away! The good news is that if you save them, and some of you will!, the next total solar eclipse visible from North America is less than seven years away on April 8, 2024!
It doesn't matter how many you have.
It doesn't matter how much you paid for them.
It doesn't matter how long the line was yesterday...
The market is gone. It's a sunk cost. Falling in love with what you have and reminding yourself of what it cost you is no help at all.
The same goes for the value of the assets we invested in, the rare skills we used to possess, the position in the marketplace we worked so hard to get.
New days require new decisions.
Paul conveys a similar thought:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
New days require new decisions, the renewing of your minds.
To make that point, Paul compares those social systems to the human body.
Our bodies are composed of parts big and small – some bigger than we’d like and some smaller than we’d like – but every component is vital – each has a job and each relies on the others to keep the system healthy and functioning. For example, we may not pay much attention to any of our 32 teeth until one starts hurting! Then it dominates our every thought! Same is true for most parts of our bodies – while they’re functioning as needed and designed – we barely pay much attention; yet let something go out of whack – and our bodies aren’t working the way they should and we’re on the phone to our docs or in line at Walgreens or googling symptoms! We don’t often tolerate our bodies gone awry!
That said, most of us barely tolerate our bodies – at all!
Body image issues are, I’d wager, ubiquitous: everyone’s got ‘em! We are harsh critics of our own physical selves and our self-perceived flaws glare back from the mirror and convince us that they are on display for all the world to critique!
The good news is that I think most of us are so self-absorbed that no one is looking at anyone else! The only one who sees your supposed flaws is you!
Funny then that Paul employs the metaphor of a “body”, with all of its image issues, to describe the church!
All of the members have value, each is connected, everyone works to ensure a healthy system. Sure, there are different jobs – prophets, ministers, teachers, preachers, givers, leaders, and those who practice “acts of cheerful compassion!” I want to hang out with them!
Yet – no job is more important than any other and in fact, often it’s the ones perceived as “lowly” that are most crucial.
In my former life, on the High Holy Days of the hotel business: Mother’s Day brunch, New Year’s Eve, Christmas Brunch, etc. – I’d load up my pocket with $20 bills and wander into the dish room and tip the folks operating the machines and scrubbing pots. Inventive and progressive cuisine gets people excited…clean silverware lets them eat it. Behind-the-scenes staff may not be the public face of an organization, but in this case, they were the muscle and sinew that kept it moving.
I think we all get the “body” metaphor at this level: the church, this church, needs everyone, everyone has a place and a gift and a contribution to make and without each and every one of you – church is not complete, healthy, or vibrant.
We get that – and here especially – we love the drive for ever-increasing diversity and inclusion. It’s an edge we thrive on and consider a hallmark.
But what if Paul isn’t talking just about the local congregation? What if Paul is looking far beyond a somewhat cohesive faith community? What if Paul isn’t talking about a like-minded gaggle of Christians on a busy corner in Wilmington?
What if Paul has a bigger view of the church than our myopic vision of our own importance? It’s reasonable to conjecture that Paul is speaking of the entire Christian Church – big “C” Church!
We may assume that the “early church” was of one mind, that the discord and dysfunction between denominations is a modern phenomenon but that’s not at all true! Lots of letters in the Bible are written to get churches in line, to add some consistency. Even the very first churches structured their worship life, governance, teaching, and theology in very different ways. As we know, that often leads to competition, conflict, and even hatred between faith communities, all of which, confess to follow the same God.
One writer posited that the current dysfunction of the Christian church impedes God’s will in the world. The “Body of Christ” is sick, very sick, and the cure just might be a healthy dose and regular regimen of ecumenism.
Ecumenism refers to efforts by Christians of different church traditions to develop closer relationships and better understandings. New decisions for a new day. Renewing of minds. Ecumenism brings hope and possibility to an enterprise fraught with struggle and discord.
Pipe dream? Probably.
But it can be done and in a small way, is happening here.
We partner with a lot of different organizations, some of which are Christian based and some of those of far more conservative than us. Case in point is Urban Promise. The list of ways in which our theology and doctrine diverge is sizable; yet what matters is that both of our organizations are seeking to serve Christ but educating young people in Wilmington who are economically and socially disadvantaged. On that we have no disagreement and we bring facility, access, safety, and volunteers – they bring teachers, kids, and relationship. Together, young people are educated. This month, 100% of the Class of 2017 is entering college.
Yet, every Christian has the same mandate: to love God and to love neighbor. When we focus on that directive and give it our full attention, then, and only then, will the image of the Body of Christ be renewed and transformed.
“And for a moment, everyone in our nation stopped and looked up in the sky and forgot about hate.”
This is a new day awaiting new decisions. No need for special glasses to see that God is calling us to love kindness, to do justice, and to walk humbly with God. That’s God’s intention for humanity – that’s God’s image of the Body of Christ.