Overheard on the radio this morning from the CBC traffic reporter:
The Body of Christ
I wonder what first comes to mind when you hear the word, ‘church’?
For many people, it’s a building; when they say, ‘our church’, they’re referring to the building in which they meet for worship. Those buildings are often full of hallowed memories for people, especially if they’ve lived in the same place and gone to the same church all their lives. For them, the presence of God is somehow especially associated with these familiar places of worship.
For other people, it’s an institution. There used to be a saying, at least in England, that when a young man (it was always a young man in those days) decided to become a priest he was ‘going into the Church’. Never mind that, from a Christian point of view, it was faith and baptism that made you a member of the Church; these folks saw the Church as a great national organisation, comparable to the army or the civil service. If you decided to become a soldier you were joining the army; if you decided to become a priest you were joining the Church.
There’s a variation on this today when people say, ‘the Church should be getting involved in the community more’ or ‘the Church should be doing something about housing issues’, or ‘the Church should be feeding the hungry’. What many people mean by this is that ministers should be visibly involved in this. Never mind that three quarters of the members of the board of a particular charity might be members of Christian churches; never mind that ministers are trained in biblical exegesis and not housing policy – unless there’s someone with a clerical collar on the committee, some people will say that ‘the Church doesn’t care about these kinds of issues’ – by which they mean, the Church as an institution, as represented by its paid professional ministers.
So there’s the church as a building (preferably old and beautiful), and the church as an institution. A third common use of the term is the church as a community. This is usually a local thing; people talk about ‘my church’, meaning the particular congregation of which they’re a part. It’s especially important for it to be a welcoming community, a friendly community, a community that has lots of activities and programs to support people through the stresses and strains of their lives. At St. Margaret’s we try to give a lot of attention to this aspect of the church; we think it’s important for members of a church community to know each other and care for each other, and there’s no way we can do that without being willing to spend time together. We also try to make sure new people feel welcome and can easily find their way into this community of faith.
Well, there’s probably some truth in all three of these common ways of thinking of the church – the church as a building, as an institution, and as a community – but they all fall short of the image that Paul uses in our epistle for today when he talks about the church as a body. And not just as any body, either – as the body of Christ. What’s he trying to get at here?
Read the rest here.
For it was you who formed my inward parts;you knit me together in my mother’s womb.I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.Wonderful are your works;that I know very well.My frame was not hidden from you,when I was being made in secret,intricately woven in the depths of the earth.Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. (Psalm 139:13-16a, NRSV).
Noah Taliesin Chesterton was born at about 10.00 a.m. Thursday January 21st.
This is a slow stork, but I think it could be quite soon now…
Looks like the stork might come in to land some time tonight…
Here are a couple of stories from people trying to do some good on the ground in Haiti.
The first is about Sarah Wallace, a young midwife from Devon, just outside Edmonton:
As Canadians are urged to head toward the embassy in Port-au-Prince and evacuate earthquake-ravaged Haiti, Devon-raised Sarah Wallace will stay amid the chaos in an isolated city to the south and search for survivors.
Wallace moved to the port city of Jacmel in 2008 to work as a midwife and establish a registered charity, called Olive Tree Projects.
The city of 40,000 is her home now, and though devastation in the country’s capital dominates headlines, Jacmel is likewise in shambles.
Many people are dead. Many more are struggling to survive.
“Haiti needs help and that’s why I moved here,” says Wallace, 24.
“I wanted to help them before the earthquake. Now they need the help even more. Why would I stop now?”
The second article is by Willard Metzger, director of church relations for World Vision Canada who was in Haiti leading party of volunteers when the earthquake struck. Willard has actually preached twice at our church here in Edmonton. Here’s an excerpt:
Our hotel became a quick, make-shift medical clinic. People with emergency first aid experience became lead doctors. Bed sheets were ripped into bandages, pool chairs became stretchers and baseboards were stripped to become splints. The make-shift medical clinic worked with the headlights of vehicles until
10:45 p.m. Then the scenes seemed to settle for the night. But not for long.
By 11 p.m. the wounded started pouring in again: a young girl who had been dug from the rubble, still in her school uniform from her walk home, a young boy with a broken ankle, foot pointing outward. These broken limbs needed to be set with little more than a steady hand, ripped bed sheets and splintered base boards. Painful cries rose into the starry sky.
Another tremor shook the ground sending those who could run scrambling into the middle of the unlit streets. But the damage had already been done and the wounded needed care. The street was filled with those receiving medical attention as relatives waved their hands and begged God for mercy on their children.
Read the rest on the World Vision Canada website here.