Sunday, January 21, 2007


Sermon as perhaps preached - no church for me - the roads are closed from here to Rock Springs and Eden due to snow. Instead of reading 1 Corinthians from the Bible we planned to read it as edited by Mark Schowalter and made to fit our church by me. Thanks to Luiz Coelho for the image.

FROM CORINTHIANS
"We Are All One"
Text taken from 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 (NRSV)

V1: I'm one.

V2: I'm one.

V3: And I'm one.

V4: And I'm one.

V5: And I am one also.

V6: And I am one, too.

All: 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.

V1: For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.

V2: Males and females, peoples of all ages, tongues, and races,

V3: and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

V4: Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.

All: If the foot would say,

V5: Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,

All: that would not make it any less a part of the body.

V6: Because we are the Youth Group and Sunday School and do not have the experiences older members have,

All: It does not make them any less part of the body of Christ.

V1: And if the ear would say,

V2: Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,

All: that would not make it any less a part of the body.

V3: Because we are the saints and sages of the church and not full of the energy like the young folk,

All: It does not make them any less part of the body of Christ.

V4: If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be?

V5: If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?

V1. If it weren't for the Bible Study groups where would Adult study be?

V2: And if it wasn't for the congregation, what would the Vestry do?

V3: If it weren't for Sunday School teachers who would teach the children?

V4: If it weren't for the choir, who would sing for the congregation?

V5: If it weren't for the ushers who would help us find our way?

All: But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.

V6: If all were a single member, where would the body be?

V1: As it is, there are many members, yet one body.

All: The eye cannot say to the hand,

V2: I have no need of you,

All: nor again the head to the feet,

V3: I have no need of you.

V4: On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,

V5: and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor,

V1: and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect;

V2: whereas our more respectable members do not need this.

All: But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another.

V3: If one member suffers, all suffer together with it;

V4: if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

V5: So when arguments and disagreements go unresolved,

V6: We all suffer.

V1: And when one group does something that gains praise,

V2: We all praise God for that accomplishment.

V3: When someone's feelings are hurt,

V4: or something is said that is spiteful,

All: We all suffer.

V1: I'm one.

V2: I'm one.

V3: And I'm one.

V4: And I'm one.

V5: And I am one also.

V6: And I am one, too.

All: Now we are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

Gospel from Luke == followed by this (if they decide to use it)

To me the people who put together the Sunday readings should not have divided this week’s Gospel from next week’s Gospel as they are so much a part of each other.
Jesus is home visiting and is called upon to read in the synagogue. He proclaims the great liberating texts of Isaiah

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

And then it says:
"And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

All seem to be nodding, "oh yes, very nice young man, he grew up here you know, but he hasn’t done any of his famous miracles here in his own hometown.”
So he goes on to say: "Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, 'Doctor, cure yourself!' And you will say, 'Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’ “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet's hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian."
When the hometown folks heard this, “all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.”

Once he started saying that the widow of Zarephath and Naaman, foreigners and not even of the correct religious tradition, have received God's grace and are welcomed at the table, he was in big trouble with those who knew who is "in" and who is "out." They want to toss him off the nearest cliff, but he passes through them like Obi Wan and the droids in Star Wars

(Note to reader: you can drop this if you don’t want it – have to act it out – the storm trooper starts out gruff but sort of loses his mind as when Obi Wan waves his hand)
Stormtrooper: Let me see your identification.
Obi-Wan: [with a small wave of his hand] You don't need to see his identification.
Stormtrooper: We don't need to see his identification.
Obi-Wan: These aren't the droids you're looking for.
Stormtrooper: These aren't the droids we're looking for.
Obi-Wan: He can go about his business.
Stormtrooper: You can go about your business.
Obi-Wan: Move along.
Stormtrooper: Move along... move along


These passages about bringing good news to the poor, liberating the captives, lifting the burden of oppression and giving sight to the blind are the foundational basis for Jesus' ministry and message. Always - he brings us up short when we think we can box him into being our Jesus, our homeboy, our god. Jesus is the incarnation of the wild creator God, the Spirit who goes where she wills as the Gospel of John says. He cannot be limited to our pet. He will reach out to all who cry for liberation, healing, and freedom from the oppressive systems that keep them from fully becoming that which God intends.
Where do the words of Jesus meet us in our lives? Perhaps we are poor in spirit and need feeding on the word of God. Perhaps we are on the edge of poverty due to medical bills or unexpected emergencies and need help to find our way out. What things hold us captive – a need for education? Do substances - drugs, alcohol – whatever keep us captive? Are we burden by others’ prejudices? Around the world and here in Rock Springs people are suffering to a greater and lesser degree –but it is all suffering and where ever it can be taken away – the more are free to help others. Jesus’ promise is that he brings good news of the promise that this can happen.
Jesus proclaims sight for the blind. I think he is speaking mainly of blindness to the fact that we are all brothers and sisters of the human family. Blindness to the opportunities to help one another around the world to live life as though the kingdom of God has already come. We suffer from blindness of imagination – imagination that can lift up out of wars and greed to a world that has a place at the table for all.
In this Gospel reading, Jesus reminds us that God cares for all and invites all to the banquet. St Paul in the letter we read together reminds us that we are all one but all have a part to play.
Let us pray that we receive this sight to see the abundance in our midst. And seeing the abundance of love, of gifts, of abilities, we join in ministry of reconciliation of the world as we promised in our baptism. Pray that we begin, in whatever ways, large or small, beginning within our families and communities and spreading out to all the world, to see the opportunities that abound. Amen.