As you perhaps know, Cheryl and I have been very sick since Christmas. We have been told that we probably wandered into some evil combination of nasty bacteria and resistant virus which have held us hostage for what has seemed an endless number of days.
Well, Cheryl is back to doing what she does, including creating some new paintings. She has bought a white painting smock for that purpose which makes her look exactly like a medical technician or a doctor wearing a lab coat. Now my blood pressure goes up every time she walks into the room.
For my part, I had not even been able to sit at a computer or focus my thoughts through that whole time and it’s just been the last couple of days that I have felt like I can get back into some sort of web site rhythm. Thank you for your patience and concern and maybe even prayers.
During the past weeks however, my overactive imagination has been thinking many thoughts and churning out many churns (?) and my hope is that we would discover and grow and be challenged together as we continue to connect God and life on these pages.
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Lectionary: Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a; Luke 4:14-21
Although I haven’t copied it below, I recommend also reading today’s words from the book of Nehemiah. In this passage, we watch as the Hebrew people have returned to their homeland after generations of captivity in Babylon. The walls of their city have been repaired and there is an air of joy and enthusiasm as the people celebrate their return. It is now clear to them that God has kept his promise to take care of them and they are enthusiastic to celebrate what he has done and to learn more about his words to them.
We are given a beautiful word picture of a sea of people anxiously listening to the Law of God being read and explained to them and the exuberant worship party that follows. It is a beautiful description of God’s people hand in hand, united by their passion and joy.
The reading I have pasted below is from many years later when Saint Paul writes about the importance of God’s people working together with the same enthusiasm and sense of mission.
The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.
Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?
But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”
In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.
All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it …
… Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not! So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts.
But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all.
One of the themes that I have tried to convey to people in my life is, ‘Be who God made you to be.’ In other words, follow the passions and talents that he has given you. Do the things you naturally gravitate toward; that are in your DNA. Do those activities that are natural to you and leave the rest to others who have different passions and talents.
There is no God-scale of what is more or less important but there are, unfortunately, human-scales. In God’s economy:
- a lawyer is no more or less important than the person who plows your road;
- a head of state is no more or less important than any of their constituents;
- a business owner is no more or less important than a refugee;
- sales is no more or less important than warehousing;
- the one who leads worship in church is no more or less important than the one who cleans the washrooms;
- a pastor is no more or less important than a grandmother who knits mittens for the homeless.
So, what do you do? What can you do? What gives you joy?
Search for the things God has put into your heart to do.
How can you give that to God and the world around you that he loves?
Do it with excellence; basking in God’s approval and favour.
May all I do begin with your inspiration,
and help it continue with your saving help.
Take captive my will and my talents,
And help me to find my place in your kingdom.
Let my service always find its origin in you,
and through you may it reach completion.