I Corinthians 12:12-27
September 17, 2017
Last week it we talked about “True Rejoicing.” “Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I say Rejoice.” That was Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians. (Philippians 4:4) That’s a wonderful chapter – chapter four. Reread it if you haven’t already!
Well, this week I’m emphasizing the word “All.” Because today we celebrate leadership. Today we recognize these people God has “called through the voice of the Church.” And as we do that, we think about our lives together in the Church – all of us!
This is not “All Saints Day.” That comes in a few weeks. But maybe it is a good day to think about “all the saints.” Maybe it is a good day to think about that “Great cloud of witnesses” that surrounds us. Maybe it’s a good day to remember those who have gone before us – from this Church and from other churches throughout our lives – people who have influenced us, people who may have planted the seed of faith within us, or who nurtured that seed. Maybe it’s a good day to think of those who have handed down to us the “mantle” of leadership, through the years of our lives, down through the centuries, and down through the ages. That is a precious gift, is it not? It is a gift that has been lovingly handed down to us from the days and the teaching of Jesus.
That’s quite a thought, isn’t it? I’ve talked before on these Sundays about “Apostolic Succession.” That’s the idea that what we have in the leadership of the Church, comes down through a long succession from the Apostles themselves, who themselves were given their “authority” by Jesus, himself!
I hope you think about that today. I hope you see this “mantle of leadership” for the precious gift that it is. And I hope you who are called see yourselves as administering that gift, passionately and compassionately, as did our Savior.
But for the rest of us, I want you to see today that we are all part of that leadership! That’s the idea behind the title, “All Rejoice Together.” Remember that one of Paul’s biggest concerns was “Christian Unity.” He pled with the Ephesians about it. “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3) I would remind you today, as Paul reminded this Church in Corinth, that it’s all of us! We are all part of this leadership, just as we are all part of the body of Christ here on earth!
So, let me remind you of some things – “leadership-wise.” (And I believe Paul would agree with this.) First of all, we don’t elect people to do the work of the church – work that we’re glad we now don’t have to do. (…that is, until we’re elected!) That’s not the idea! And Paul would agree!
As I’ve often(!) said – about the Trustees, for instance – it’s not the job of the Trustees to do the maintenance of the building and grounds. It’s the job of the Trustees to see that the maintenance of the building and grounds gets done. It’s the talents and energy of all of us who do that work! The leaders are just that. They are leaders! They lead the rest of us in doing the work of the Church.
That’s the first thing. Paul says that here in verse twelve. “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.” We all share together in the work of the Church. We all rejoice together!
The second thing I want to remind you is that none of us can say we are not worthy of the work of the church, or not necessary. As Paul said, “The ear cannot say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body.’” We need to see ourselves as necessary parts of the Body of Christ. As we celebrate certain of us who are called at this time, we also remember that each of us is crucial to the functioning of the church! None of us can say we are not part of this!
Then, as Paul also said here, none of us can say to another, you are not worthy of the work of the church, or not necessary. His next words are, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’” Each of us must see ourselves as a necessary part of the church, and each of us should see each other as a necessary part of the church!
These leaders, who we installed today, will be looking to all of the rest of you to do the work of the church. So, here at the beginning of a new “church year,” this is a good time to be thinking about how you will serve. Will you help out on a committee? Will you take charge of a garden? Will you be a prayer warrior? Will you help with a project? Will you help with the expenses of the church with a special gift?
Stewardship emphasis is right around the corner. And as the Stewardship committee often reminds us, Stewardship is thought of in terms of the three “T’s.” Stewardship is our “Time,” our “Talents,” and our “Treasure.” All three of those are important. So this is a good time to start thinking about our part in all three of those things. What time can we give to the church? What gifts and talents can we share? How can we all support the church with our treasure, remembering that Jesus himself said, “For where your treasure is, there will your (?) heart be also!”
As we think of ourselves today as the “body of Christ on earth,” may we see that we all rejoice together. And just like the human body, which Paul is using as a comparison here, we are weaker when any one part is not functioning! As Paul concludes, “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.” “Now you – all of you – are the body of Christ and individually members of it”
Eternal God, we ask for your blessing on this your body here on earth. Help us to know that each of us is important to this ministry. Help us to have the sense of rejoicing together in the service of Jesus Christ our Lord. For we pray in his name, and for the sake of his kingdom, Amen!