Some rights reserved (CC BY 2.0) by John Fowler
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Part of being community is acknowledging that we are part of the whole. Just as community is never made of one entity, we are never intended to be individually the whole corpus of the church.
A colleague's induction sermon recently reminded the congregation that the church needs all of us; we all have a part to play in being the body of Christ. The body is meant to be built, and continually go through phases of growth and healing; the church is never just one person or one ministry or one time. None of us can be all things to all people, and still be authentic in our ministry. Nor should we try to be all things to all people, or consider our ministries more important than someone else's.
Like the biological body, how we connect to one another, in times of strength and in times of weakness, is important. We must be vulnerable to one another: "Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection." (Brené Brown) It takes times of sharing leadership, of handing ministries to new members, of trying new things, of evaluating existing traditions, of mentoring and encouraging and supporting one another, of celebrating new gifts and skills as they are offered and discerned, of accepting the inevitability of change.
The body of Christ, like any other body, is in constant change. Changes in people, changes in ministries, changes in neighbourhoods, changes in finances, changes in opportunities. As community, as the body, we are called to do our best to adapt in the healthiest possible way.
In the parish I serve, we witnessed an inspiring example of the healing of the body, as a demonstration of the health of the community. Last summer, one of our beloved was in an accident that left her with 2 broken legs. As her body struggled to heal, the body of Christ supported that health: through prayers, visits, gifts, transportation, shopping assistance - whatever it took. We all celebrated as she continued to make - and meet - physical goals striving towards full restoration of health.
We were shocked when, last month, she died unexpectedly. It was a part of our community, our body, torn from us. Yet through our grief, we continued to minister to and with one another, supporting and encouraging and praying. We knew that we had to continue being the body of Christ, and used her inspiration towards healing as a community.
In community, as community, we are the body: we together grieve our losses, we together celebrate new life, we together mend when we are broken, we together strive towards health and wholeness. The body in all its complexities orients itself towards full health in the present: it does not live in the past, nor does it fret for the future. The body of Christ is our body, breaking and healing, giving and receiving, supporting and being supported; of being in vulnerable communion with God and one another.