A View from the Pulpit

Hopefully, I’ll get the newsletter posted to the website soon, in the meantime, here’s my article:

Nearly twenty centuries ago, Paul wrote the letter we now know as 1 Corinthians to the church at Corinth telling them:

“12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. …
14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot would 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. 16 And if the ear would 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. 17 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? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24 whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25 that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.”

— 1 Corinthians 12.12-26 (NRSV)

Recently I’ve been thinking about this passage and Paul’s metaphor of the church as the body of Christ as I consider the state of First United Methodist Church. In particular I’ve been thinking about the phrase “whereas our more respectable members do not need this.” There are many part of First United Methodist Church. Some of those parts are functioning quite well; these parts are strong and healthy whereas other parts are frail and anemic. As your pastors, Jenny and I cannot attend to every part of the church individually, no matter how badly we want to. For this reason we’ve spent the past two and a half years focusing most of our attention on the parts we’ve diagnosed as frail and anemic, the parts that we believe are in the most desperate need of attention. The parts that are healthy and strong have not needed such attention. We’ve now become aware that some of the healthy and strong parts of the body of First United Methodist church are feeling neglected. Please know that this is not because you are considered unimportant or beneath us, it is rather because those parts of the body of Christ that are healthy “do not need this” attention. If you have felt neglected or underappreciated by your pastors please take it as a compliment, an indication that we believe that your part of the church is spiritually strong and mature enough to look after yourself for a bit while we try to provide acute care to other parts of the church.

We believe that all of this will ultimately serve the good of the entire church. As Paul wrote the Corinthians, all of the parts of the body are needed, all are necessary (the ear cannot say “I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body”), and when “one member suffers all suffer together with it.” Our help is that by focusing our attention on healing and strengthening the weak and anemic parts of the body, the entire body will be better able to experience health and wholeness.