1 Corinthians 12, 14-17
Something to read
Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot were to say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear were to say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?
New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
Paul is trying to explain to the fractious Corinthian church in this analogy that they all need one another; that no one can say to another member 'I have no need of you' or 'You are not part of me'.
There is only one church, the body of Christ, and all are essential members of it. Thus no one can separate from other members. To have a relationship to Christ means being part of his body – the church.
The Corinthian church was nothing like most of our contemporary churches. They would have met at someone’s house – probably that of a wealthy church member. It would have been rather noisy and disorganised.
The membership would be an unusual mix of people of different races, languages and social standings. Slaves would mix with owners on equal footing. Women would have far more equality with men in the church than they did in everyday life.
In some ways, the church would have been an upside down version of ordinary life. Christians often think that the church is or should be a place of order, quiet dignity and relative silence. But the early church was messy.
Something to do
Tolerate disorder and messiness. Christianity, in its truest form, is not about order but about turning things upside down.
It is, at its heart, a messy religion. One need only think of St Francis walking through the streets of medieval Assisi naked when he renounced wealth and became poor for Christ.
So, when things get a bit upside down and you feel it is all a bit too undignified, smile for the sake of Christ and try to enjoy the chaos.
Something to pray
A Prayer of Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
Humbly we pray that this mind
may be steadfast in us,
and that through these our hands,
and the hands of others
to whom thou shalt give the same spirit,
thou wilt vouchsafe to endow
the human family with new mercies.
Today's contributor is the Rev James Matarazzo Jr, a United Church of Christ (USA) minister from Boston, Massachusetts. He moved to London in 2007. Jim is a founding member of INERELA+ (International Network of Religious Leaders Living with and Affected by HIV and AIDS), a Christian Aid partner. He is now working on a DPhil in Systematic Theology at Oxford University.