I Corinthians 12:12-27
First Presbyterian Church of Whitestone
22 March 2018
The Rev. W. Mark Koenig
We’ve never done it that way before. We’ve never done it that way before.
A minister comes to a new call direct from seminary with a fresh vision and untried ideas. A minister comes to a new call after years of experience in other have tested and reshaped vision and possibilities.
A Session meeting happens. With enthusiasm and handouts and video clips, the minister proposes a new program or a new way of doing ministry.
The people listen respectfully. The minister finishes. And silence ensues.
After what seems like an eternity, but is only 12.8 seconds, someone says, “Yeah … that’s interesting. We’ve never done it that way before.” And there the idea ends.
Today we worship in a way that at least I have never done before. As are congregations across the country and around the world we are finding new ways to live as church in the age of Covid-19. Ways we have never done before.
On this first day we worship apart, it seems essential to me to affirm that we are the church. On this day and on all the days ahead with whatever they may bring, we are the church.
As Paul reminded the followers of Jesus in Corinth, the church is first and foremost the Body of Christ. The people who have come to faith in Jesus and are bound together in his love and by God’s grace, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
“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. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”
When we are together, we are the Body of Christ. When we are apart, we are the Body of Christ. Everyone on this phone call. Everyone we can call to mind—in other parts of the country or around the world. People we have never met and will never know. All are part of the Body of Christ. All are the church.
We are the church. Things have changed in this age of Covid-19. It is odd to preach looking at a phone instead of people. Other changes may occur in the days ahead. We don’t know.
But we know we are the church.
We are the church. We love God. We gather to worship by conference call. We will continue to explore ways to worship. We pray. I am sending a daily email with some form of prayer or spiritual nurture. Let me know if you are not receiving that. Pray in other ways. Read Scripture. Meditate. Sing. Sing as if no one is listening, goes an old saying. We can do that now. Find whatever ways keep you connected to God.
We are the church. We love neighbors. For those who can stay home, we love our neighbors by sitting on our couch. For those who have to go out, we show our love in the steps we take to show love and protect ourselves and others. For all of us, love is shown when we wash our hands and cover our mouths.
As we physically distance ourselves from one another, it is crucial that we socially connect. My friends Stephen and Laura learned of a family struggling to make ends meet. They shared the concern anonymously on Facebook and raised over $700 in small gifts. Susan is sewing face masks for a friend who is a nurse. We are going to ramp up our Flock program this week with Deacons and Elders checking on congregation members.
We can connect with family and friends. Call. Text. Send a card. I have four friends who are now working at home and caring for children. They feel a tad overwhelmed. I send them a simple text each week—no great solutions, just a reminder that I am thinking of them. Facebook has issues but it is a way to remain in touch with each other and a broader community. Rex is willing to help you if you want to learn more about using Facebook. If we are financially able, we might consider buying a gift certificate at one of our favorite restaurants.
We can advocate for governments to respond to hateful, racist acts against Asian Americans. We can call the federal government to ensure that relief measures benefit people in need as well as corporations. We can prepare for the conversations that will be needed as our country recovers and restructures when the age of Covid-19 ends.
Keep looking for random acts of kindness and organized acts of justice that keep us socially connected while we physically distance ourselves.
We are the church. We love ourselves. We take care of ourselves. We ask for and accept help when we need it. If you need help, contact me or another member and we will do what we can. During the PAUSE as our governor calls us, learm something new. Practice a hobby. Laugh. Cry when tears are needed. Grieve when grief comes. Exercise. That gets tough. It’s 30 steps for a lap across and back my apartment. That’s 333 steps to get to 10,000. When I told my friend and trainer Nicole, she said: this is a perfect time to finally do those stretches I taught you. Eat well. Take a nap. Forgive someone. Forgive yourself. Give thanks to God daily.
We are the church. Much has changed. More will change. But we are the church.
There is a scene in The Lord of the Rings where Frodo, the hobbit, reflects on the challenges facing the community as he talks to Gandalf the wizard.
“I wish this need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for us to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
I certainly wish Covid-19 had not happened. I wish it had not happened in my time. But it has. It is. This is the time we have been given.
We decide what we do with this time. But we do not decide alone. Wherever we are and however we gather as the First Presbyterian Church of Whitestone, we are the Body of Christ, bound together with followers of Jesus around the world. Jesus is with us. We are the church. Thanks be to God. Amen.