SouthPark as One Body

Posted on Sep 9, 2015 in Sermons

I Corinthians 12: 12-27
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. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all
baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—
and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
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.
27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually
members of it.
Many Stories, One Book
Please pray with me: May the words of my mouth, and the
meditations of all our hearts, be acceptable and pleasing in Your
sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
Well, here we are…at the start of another church year. This
weekend is Labor Day, but next Sunday we kick off
another year of church activities. We get back into the
groove of the church year. And we start back after a
Summer of changes and transitions. First Lesley Ann
resigned. The next week, Joe. Then Helms and Greg. I
don’t know about you, but I was kind of afraid to come to
church the next Sunday for fear of who was next! It was a
lot for us, the congregation, to adjust to. The leadership of
the church began their work to pray, discern, and search
for an Interim Pastor. I, with Kevin, began to pray and
discern what God was calling me to do, and ultimately
contacted John Richardson and asked him to provide the
Elders with my profile, and they had contacted John
Richardson requesting mine. We then began to discuss
and discern that God might be at work, bringing us
together in a new way, in a way that is outside the
proverbial box. But isn’t that how God works best?
Outside of the boxes we construct to contain God, in an
attempt to maintain our comfort? And so here we are,
Lesley Ann, Joe, Helms, and Greg are gone, and I have
transitioned from the bench to the pulpit, and we are set to
embark on a new year, filled with anticipation and awe,
eager to answer the call God is placing on this
congregation, to see the work God is going to do here
amongst us and through us at SouthPark Christian
Church! We’re excited! I feel it! I hear it from each one
here. But it’s also scary. Change always is. Change is
never easy – even for those of us who like to consider
ourselves open to change. Maybe even especially for us,
because at least when you admit to not liking change,
you’re admitting it is hard, whereas those of us who
profess to be open to it have to confront and deal with the
rude awakening of the difficulty change brings.
When Kevin, Brayden, and I walked through the doors of
SouthPark almost a year ago, we immediately felt at
home. I’ve told many people, Kevin and I had a list of
churches we were going to visit, and SouthPark was the
first church we visited. We never went to the others on
our list. One thing that we liked was that this church had
adopted the Narrative Lectionary for the year. I had never
heard of the Narrative Lectionary and so I read about it,
and I fell in love with it, because it followed the stories of
the Bible. And like, the Revised Common Lectionary, the
one most Protestant denominations use, it is set up on a 4
year cycle. In my interview with the Elders, and after I
was offered and accepted this call, I was asked if I was
going to use a lectionary, and which one? I responded that
I wanted to continue on with the Narrative Lectionary if
that was ok, for two reasons: 1) I liked the idea of
continuing on studying the different stories of the Bible,
and 2) probably more importantly, there has been so much
change in our congregation that continuing on with the
Narrative Lectionary would be the foundation of
consistency on which we can steady ourselves during a
time of transition and change.
Here is one of the lenses in which I view and approach the
Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is a book of
stories that depict Gods relationship with humans, our
relationship to God, our relationship with each other, and
our relationship with all of Creation. In the Bible we find
relationships that are fraught with dysfunction, deception,
manipulation, and every kind of vice. BUT, it is also filled
with stories of God’s faithfulness to us in all of these
circumstances, and God’s unending love for us, and God’s
unending hope, and expectation, that we can do better. It
is also filled with stories of our ancestors in faith, doing
their very best to follow God’s call on their lives as they
understood it. Sometimes they succeeded, many times
they failed, but God’s love never left them, even when it
seemed God was disciplining them pretty harshly.
Our scripture this morning speaks of one body, many
parts. Each part of the body is essential to make up the
whole. An eye cannot make up for the loss of an ear. Each
part of our body is important. So it is with the stories of
the Bible. Without the story of Adam and Eve we cannot
have the story of the Birth of Christ. Without the Birth of
Christ, we cannot have the story of Christ’s death, and
without Christ’s death, we certainly cannot receive the
story of the Resurrection, upon which the very foundation
of our faith and hope is built.
In the same way, as our passage states this morning, there
are parts of our body that we deem less honorable, so we
take greater care in clothing those areas so as to be
respectable. It is the same with the stories of the Bible.
There are those stories that are more difficult for us to deal
with, those stories that we would rather ignore. Instead, it
is all the more important that we study those stories and
really dig deep to hear the lesson God is trying to convey
to us. The United Church of Christ has a statement that
says, “Don’t put a period where God has put a comma,
God is still speaking.” The first part of that sentence was
actually a statement made by the late comedian and
actress Gracie Allen. There is a lot of truth in that. Not
only do the stories of the Bible still mean something for us
today, but these stories propel us to be open to the story
God is writing with us today. In the coming year, as we
study the various stories, I encourage us to consider in
what way is God co-writing our story here today? What
story of God’s faithfulness is God co-writing with us at
SouthPark Christian Church in 2015-2016? God did not
stop speaking to humanity once the canonization of the
Bible was complete. We serve a living God, a God that
desires to be in relationship with each of us, individually
and collectively, together being a witness of God’s majesty
and work in the world today.
The Narrative Lectionary is set up so that from September
to December the readings come from the Hebrew
Scriptures, what most people refer to as the Old
Testament. I like this because many times within
Christianity we avoid much of the Hebrew Scriptures,
except for the Psalms and possibly Proverbs. But we need
to study the Hebrew Scriptures to also understand the
New Testament. Again, this goes back to the idea that
each part of the body is needed to make up the whole.
Year two of the Narrative Lectionary, which is what we are
in this year, is known as “the year of Mark,” as all the
Gospel reading from Christmas until Easter will come
from the book of Mark.
Our first story next week is Adam and Eve. “It is not good
that man should be alone, I will make a helpmate for
him.” (There may or may not be apples involved in next
weeks breakfast. You’ll have to come and find out…)
What can we learn from this story? What does the Adam
and Eve story have in common with us today and in the
writing of our story here at SouthPark?
The following week we will hear the story of Isaac being
born to Sarah. Now those are some messy relationships
that don’t seem to go too well. Going further into Autumn
we will hear about Jacob’s relationship with God, Moses’
relationship with God, God’s relationship with Israel
through the Ten Commandments, Ruth and Naomi’s
relationship, David’s kingship, Rehoboam, Elijah, Hosea,
Isaiah, Josiah — so many rich and wondrous stories.
Friends, I encourage you while at home during the week,
to pick up your Bibles and read these stories, bring your
questions to church, your observations, and let’s discern
God’s call on us together, as a community of Disciples at
SouthPark Christian Church.
Yesterday we gathered to honor the life of Eddy Brown,
Tanya’s husband. In my eulogy I told the stories of Eddy
that Tanya and her family shared with me – their stories of
their relationship with Eddy throughout his life. His
closest friend from High School on, shared his heart and
the story of how they met and became friends. Not all of
us knew Eddy. I never met him. But I learned a lot about
him through the stories told to me by his family. Having
the opportunity to hear these stories helped to know
Tanya better, and hopefully become a better friend, a
better Pastor to her. In the same way, reading, studying,
and talking about the stories of our faith in the coming
year will help draw us closer to God and to each other,
which will empower us to reach outside these walls and
welcome those God brings to us in the way God has
welcomed each of us.
What is the story of SouthPark? What is the next chapter
in our lives together? In what direction is God calling us?
Exciting things are afoot here, that is for certain. Let’s join
together and discover the story God is writing with us and
live into the faith and hope that comes from Christ Jesus.