Unity and Diversity in the Body
1 Corinthians 12:12-20
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] 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. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being 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 stop being 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 placed 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.
Prayer: Lord, we thank you for challenging us to accept each other as we are…important to the entire spiritual body… Amen
So, you think the trip is over…the months of planning, the days leading up to the trip…getting the kids across the country, down the Arkansas river (can you explain to me…why is it Kansas and Arkansas…why not “Kansaw” or “Ar Kansas”) this has had me perplexed for the last 16 years! Anyway... so, down the Arkansas river, Up and down the mountains and back across the country, and then home safely, the stress should be released right…but nooooooo, I get to put together a worship service. Now if anybody tries to tell you this is an easy task…please know, that it is not!
I have been trying to bring the whole worship experience into focus on the verse I just read. That each of us is so very important to the health of the whole! And, not just the church, but the whole human race. This was the basic theme for Colorado 2011.
The fact is, the Colorado Kids are a very diverse group…the kids go to different schools, there are boys and girls, the color of their skin has many hues and yet most importantly, each one has something, some special trait…blessed by God, unique to them. Each one, like all of us, is a different part of the body of Christ and of the human race. The hardest thing to accept sometimes, is that each one, each part makes us whole.
I may have mentioned this before, one of the many lessons my father taught me at an early age was to understand the importance of immersing myself into diverse environments. Dad was on the board of the Central YMCA and it was important to him that I learn to accept all people and their differences…granted the most obvious difference was the color of our skin…but it was a great setup for the rest of my life. And great relationships came out of his work there. Dad’s best friend was a man by the name of “doc” Kelcher. My Dad and Doc worked together at the Y for many many years. Together with many others, Dad and Doc helped to build an important service in the city of Cleveland and throughout the region of northeast Ohio. Plus there was a bonus, Doc was a fellow athlete and good friend of Jessie Owens…so my folks got to spend time with Jessie Owens and his wife…which later… lead to my meeting Jessie Owens when I was in College, his face lighting up when I mentioned Doc’s name. All of which is very exciting for me…but the important part is that we were indeed connected by other parts of the body!
I share the last part of that story… because we have intentionally created a very diverse environment on the Colorado Trip…bringing kids together from very different backgrounds. Kids don’t always know each other very well when they get on the bus to head west. Over the years there have been friendships forged between kids who may not have met each other had it not been for this journey. Cleveland Boy Choir kids and kids from St. Paul’s have developed lifelong friendships with kids from the Chagrin Valley…I know I have personally benefitted by meeting the parents of these kids, who I now know as friends and the kids themselves are growing into fine young adults and becoming my adult friends and enriching my life!
Last summer I read a true story by Ron Hall and Denver Moore, Same Kind of Different as me. This very touching book…Starts out with a very wealthy woman reaching out to a very troubled man…and that man became a part of this woman’s world…and dear friends with her husband! I would like to read to you from this story…miss Debbie (the wealthy woman) has died and Denver is sitting at her burial site having a little chat with her… Chapter 53 pg 193.
________ these lives were changed forever and the people telling it are made whole by their connection to each other.
We never know what might be if we accept each other where we are and reach out a hand to connect. So often we stand in judgment of one another based on what we think and we really miss out….Don’t We!
To tell a story on myself… which turns out…is a little ironic…before I start… I need to apologize to all the kids and to my dad for forgetting the all important lesson. Some of my friends and I would be out to dinner…usually here in town and we would encounter some kids hanging around town…hair dyed multiple colors…body piercings and clothes fashions we just did not understand and we would take one look and assume no good was happening and we would declare…”there goes our social security”! Well, of course I was only looking at their outer shell and wouldn’t you know…I started working with kids! Kids that have great compassion for work at making the world around them better for their being here. What a shame to have missed that these kids were and are an important part of the body.
If you look only at the surface you are most likely missing the very best of someone. If I am a Hand and look across the room and see an Ear…I think, I am so important…I can build things, what can that Ear do…discounting what the Ear has to offer only hurts me and the rest of the “body”.
Here is another personal story…many of you have known me and my family a long time…sadly my mom is slipping away from us and is now living in an assisted living home. It has been very hard the last couple of years to watch her slip away…and with 5 children grieving in different ways…this process can be complicated. The point is, there are 5 of us, 5, very different people with very different ways of dealing with the loss…5 different parts…working to do what is best for mom. We are lucky, we are all close and although we are different we value each other and want to honor each other’s needs. We are blessed to be part of the body of this family…and through today’s verse from 1 Corinthians God reminds us we are many parts of one body and each is very important to the process of caring for Mom.
To get back to our journaling theme…The inspiration …came from the hard work and passion of our own Cathy Watterson. Cathy, as I hope you all know, is encouraging us to attend an amazing opportunity…the screening of “My So Called Enemy” on August 28th at CWRU… Here is a short summation of this film…
“Filmed over a seven-year period, “My So Called Enemy” follows a group of teenage Israeli and Palestinian girls committed to mutual understanding and a just solution to the conflict that continues to rage in their homeland...This illuminating film charts the girls’ attempts to nurture their budding friendships and hopes for peace in the context of increasing violence. As entrenched ideologies and political interests tighten their grip, we learn once again that it will be left to the young to build bridges instead of walls.”
Now this real life story takes place among the lives of a war torn population…violence is more common place then any of us would care to experience…but this film has something for all of us…as Cathy put it in the Spire the film is designed…
To promote peace, stimulate improved listening, remove barriers to coexistence, improve teamwork, reduce bullying, provide a better understanding of local and global issues.
To inspire teens (and I think everybody) to embrace diversity and go beyond tolerance to acceptance. To instill confidence to lead social transformation.
In other words…see each individual in this world as a very important part of the Body of the human Race…
If these girls can fight through their differences imagine what we can do if we look for a common thread running through our lives and the lives of our neighbors. We are all part of one body and we need each other! We need to recognize that what we do and say has a profound effect on everyone. I hope we can all (youth and Adults!) make an effort to see this Film…
To kick off the kids journaling…I gave this quote from Herman Melville (the Author of Moby Dick) Thanks again Cathy for the inspiration…
"We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men, and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they comeback to us as effects. "
I wanted the kids to consider how God might be speaking through this Melville quote…how this can be applied to the journey ahead and to their lives beyond this trip. How many times do we make a decision without considering the effects on others…we need to be conscience of the fact that we are woven together… “threads that run as causes and come back to us as effects”
We may not feel the direct impact…or know what action contributed to our state of affairs…but it is reality…and if we choose to ignore that fact we are neglecting what God has asked of us…
So much about this trip is about the body as a whole. If we don’t all do our part we can’t afford to go! If we don’t serve one another our meals someone may not eat. When we are on the trail…A group of girls doesn’t reach the top of Buffalo Peaks if each individual is living for themselves. Group A Boys don’t peak at the Continental Divide without working together! If we are paddling in the white water of the Arkansas River we must be as one…every stroke matters for a safe journey.
I wonder sometimes how long before the world understands we are one! Thank goodness we are not all Hands or Eyes…we would flounder and our purpose in this life would make little sense. Not that it is always really clear, but what a mess we would be.
I pray for the day that we, the people of this world can celebrate each other instead of looking for ways to tear each other down. Those that know me well, know how I dislike the “reality” shows that make it ok to place the value of one individual over another…to “vote someone off the Island”…
Who am I to say you are in the way, you do not have a right to be here, or you do not deserve the same rights as everyone else. Success for one is just that…success for one and eventually the rest of the body will be needed. God has a special purpose for us all…God Blessed each of us with a gift…What is your gift, what part of the body are you…celebrate that part…celebrate the role you play and more importantly, celebrate the people around you, celebrate their role!