Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Easter = Resurrection = Body of Christ = Community
The experience which motivated this post happened a couple of weeks ago but Easter provides a good backdrop for blogging about it. In most Easter Sunday morning sermons, I would at some point make reference to the understanding that the church - the Body of Christ - is the physical reality of Jesus the Christ - and that is at least one way to make sense, understandable, maybe even believable this idea of resurrection. Something happened to cause a bunch of frightened, depressed, disheartened followers to begin to function again. Something happened to instill in them a new confidence, a new enthusiasm, to hope and believe again. The resurrection is at least the reality that a group of people was refueled and retooled to continue to live the journey and into the reality of the Kingdom of God here on earth. And it is still when we experience new life, new hope, new ideas, new goals, community, today that we know the truth of the concept of resurrection.
So, here's what happened on a Sunday morning a few weeks ago. One of the first things I found I could not do while I was going through testing and before diagnosis of ALS was sing during Sunday morning worship. I simply did not have enough support from the diaphragm to push out music (no cracks please about whether what I did when I was able to sing was music or not!). It was hard, friends, to be in worship and not be able to sing. Of course, part of it was conserving my energy in order to have enough strength to share the morning message.
Over the last two years I have gone from holding the hymnal and mouthing the words to simply reading the words. But two weeks ago I realized it was going to be too much to even hold the hymnal. And so, I just sat there and listened to the congregation - the community of faith - the Body of Christ - sing. And suddenly, I realized they were my voice! I was singing because I was present with the community! Wow! Now, I've preached about such ideas before - told congregations of such circumstances - and tried to inspire us to think of ourselves that way, but let me tell you when it actually happens there's nothing quite like it! Oh, I still would rather be one of the physical voices but I sure appreciate being part of a community of faith where others are caring and carrying me and many others.
One last word here. I know over the years I've stressed the importance of the community of faith - the church - being the place and the body of folks who most profoundly live out this ministry of caring. But today I think we need to be careful not to be overly zealous about the uniqueness of the community of faith. I would note that there are other arenas where such experiences of caring and resurrection occur. I have experienced and been reminded in recent months of other communities that have been my fortune to be associated with and from which I still draw strength and courage on this journey. I've been out to eat, emailing, face-booking, and visiting with high school and college friends, teammates in some cases, and had them retouch my life with memories and their human touch of words and hugs and handshakes and smiles and tears. This week a couple of former YFers are coming to visit and there have been some pretty awesome pictures on Facebook of other former YF members getting together. I really look forward to such visits even though my talking during them is becoming more challenging, more limited. Community, the resurrection life, can be experienced in a neighborhood, a MOPS group, an athletic team, friends, bands, service clubs, families, a staff, among coworkers, as well as the church. The important thing here is to be part of a community - to be connected with others. If you're not, the church is really a good place to find one. I would encourage you to give it a try.
Happy Easter to all my brothers and sisters in Christ and blessings on all of you whether part of the Christian faith or not!