I've been thinking - always a dangerous thing!! I've been thinking about christian community and how blessed we are to be a part of one. I was thinking about this bible verse from 1 Corinthians 12:26 - If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. The scripture is talking about the body of Christ and we, as Christians, are a part of that body.
Our family - the kind related by birth or marriage - has been through several things in the last year or so. We've had family members who have had a recurrence of their cancer. We've had one who had to have a breast biopsy. We've had another diagnosed with cancer and who has other issues. We've had one who suffered from a major job change. We have one who is facing more testing this week and possible surgery. The list actually goes on . . .life happens. Even the crappy stuff happens. It just does. BUT in each situation, we have been surrounded by the body of Christ. Meals have been prepared. Prayers have been said. Cards have been sent. We feel blessed.
Then I started thinking outside of our birth and marriage family to some of our close friends. Several have had cancer (it seems like it is everywhere!) and one has been healed (yay God!). One couple needs to sell their house. Another family has had some issues with their grown children. Still another has a son with serious mental health issues. Once again, the list could go on. But the body of Christ is still in action in each of these cases. Others cook meals, buy gift cards, send funny cards, write notes, lend a listening ear or a shoulder.
It doesn't stop there. In our church, we have new babies born just about every week. We vow to help raise those children in the faith. We cook meals for those families. About two weeks ago, one of our precious young couples gave birth to a sweet baby boy. Baby Wint went straight to the arms of Jesus. His mommy had to have surgery because of complications and now she can't have any more babies. The scripture says that if one part suffers, all will suffer. Oh my goodness - the body of Christ has suffered and wept for the past two weeks. Meals and cards and prayers and tears . . .more tears than you can ever imagine. Tears shed by the body of Christ for this young couple. And the prayers continue.
It is not just in the sad stuff though. When one part rejoices, all rejoice. Our friend, Jason, who has suffered through horrific surgeries and lethal chemo and burning radiation . . .has no evidence of disease. After 5+ years of sheer hell . ..his last scans show NO EVIDENCE OF DISEASE. There has been much rejoicing in the body of Christ over this news. There have been tears of joy shed over this news.
It goes even further. Outside the walls of our own church to the world at large. Children need clean drinking water . . .let's send a team over to build wells. Mothers need a way to cook for their children without smoking up their living quarters - let's build a rocket stove. Homeless folks need a meal and a place to sleep, let's serve at the Firehouse Shelter.
I'm going to be honest. When I first thought of this post, during my prayer time this morning, I only planned to write about our friends - those that we call immediate community - those that we choose to spend time with - those with whom we surround ourselves . . .but oh, God's idea is so much bigger. Through the Internet, we are connected to people we've never met. I prayed for four years for a little boy in Louisiana - I still read his aunt Mo's blog and keep up with the family . . .long after he went to be with Jesus. I've never met these people but we are connected by the body of Christ. I (and others) pray for several little girls - one in Auburn, one in Mobile and one many states away . . .and we are connected by the body of Christ.
Twila Paris sings a song and this is just one line from the song:
How beautiful, how beautiful. How beautiful is the body of Christ. From the rest of the lyrics, she is singing about Jesus himself . ..but we are his hands and feet and mouth and hugging arms here on earth . . .and how beautiful is the body of Christ.