Many gifts, one Spirit
Today's readings speak to us of the grace of God and the God-given nature of gifts. The two key verses we will keep in mind are from Romans 12:5. We who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another and Jesus' question to the disciples in Matthew 16:15 "Who do you say that I am."
They are statements or words that invite us into exploration and conversation. They might offer up answers but these answers need further thinking and asking 'What do they mean?'
So what do they hold for us today? Living together as a body is an act of grace. And don't we know it! Whether it be our human family or faith family, as the Beatles song says 'You know it don't come easy'. And Peter's answer to Jesus' question is an act of grace given to him. And yet it certainly didn't stop him going on to make foolish statements and denying knowing Jesus.
Poem Reflection on Matthew 16:13-20, by Maren Tirabassi.
Star-writer God, I read your words.
Wind-singer God, I listen to your harmony.
Seed-planter God, I eat your harvest.
Lava-chef God, I am warm by your power.
God of eagle and blue heron and chipmunk,
I find myself like a playing child,
all swoop and stalk and scamper.
Who do I say that you are?
John said -- vine, light, gate,
bread, word, and hardest of all -- way.
Pilate said King of the Jews.
The disciples cited popular confusion -
Elijah, John, Jeremiah,
or any one of the prophets - I understand
because I live in a time
that desperately needs prophets.
Peter took the simple answer,
and you called him - rock,
leaving him to discover for himself -
Satan, cock-hearer, nude swimmer
fire-tongue, ex-con and
omnivore in a kosher culture.
I stand before you
in all my stories, metaphors and names,
rejoicing in the one and many you.
So might we say that acts of grace have an ongoing nature to them? What acts of grace have you received this week? What acts of grace have you offered to others this week? Who do we say Jesus is? Do we just give the answer as we've been taught and as we hear it or do we know it in our living and being?
What does it mean?!
Paul's letter to the Romans tells us the answer. It is important because it is what guides our thinking and therefore who we become. That we will change from the inside and act out from our thinking. People working with people will tell you the truth of this - thinking and attitudes direct actions
Which is why events like Charlottesville in Virginia, United States and Barcelona in Spain and Kabul in Afghanistan so disturb us. The thinking behind them is full of hate for the other; hate for the different; And yet here we are being asked to not only live with, but appreciate and value, all the 'others' that make up 'the whole body.' And not to think or say that one part is more important or valued - that every part is needed.
A body made up of all one part wouldn't be a particularly well-functioning body. A rugby team of only flyhalfs Beauden Barrett - doesn't work without all the other roles doing their job.
L'Arche (Rainbow) community is formed around the wounded bodies of people with limitations and disabilities that prevent them being independent. Feeding, cleaning, touching, holding is what builds this community. Words are secondary. Most of these people have few words to speak and many do not speak at all. It is the language of body that counts most. Henri Nouwen who lived in this community for a time wrote: "The body thus becomes the way to know the word and to enter into relationship with the word. The body of Jesus becomes the way of life."
And if we think of a tree .. What are the different parts of a tree? Roots, Trunk, Branches, Leaves, Fruit. All joined together and with different functions. All requiring attention to care for the whole.
So since we find ourselves fashioned into all the excellently formed and marvellously functioning parts in Christ's body, let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be
- Head: Think, Plan, Vision
- Neck: Supports
- Hand: Service, Pastoral care
- Heart: Prayer
- Womb: Birthing
- Feet: Service, Going places, Bearers of good news
So let us re-member whose we are; re-member who we represent in our living; and re-member - Keep a smile on your face.