Sunday, May 02, 2004

The Church - The Body of Christ

Intro: I am not an artist. 1. I was reminded of that this week when I had small groups giving presentations in the classroom. 2. On group asked us to get into groups of two - and assigned one of us the job of drawing, and the other one of thinking. 3. I was lucky - I was the thinker in my group. But my partner was a CS student. And I was amazed at his skill. A CS student with artistic talent seemed odd to me. 4. I think my earliest attempts at drawing a human was part of a game we all have played - hangman. 5. I am not very good at drawing a human being - even less capable at making one 6. But God was a lot better at that - early in my Christian life I learned a lesson that has stuck with me. God mad me exactly the way he wanted me - I am flawed, but if I am God's creation, then I am what he wants me to be. And he will use me - even as a broken person. Read I Corinthians 12:12-27 Pray Tran. Corinthians is one of the saddest books. Of any of Paul's writing, it is probably written to the most troubled of the early churches. And yet, even in the midst of words that generally are directed to a church that has a lot growing to do (Paul calls his teaching to the Corinthian church milk and contrasts it with the meat that he gives to others), we find some wonderful truths. T.S. As we consider the church as the body of Christ, I want to look at two truths that present themselves. Two truths that will help us to understand our role in the ministry of the church. I. Being a part of the body of Christ means we are connected. (Ill.) We are a United Methodist Church. That brings a long history of tradition - both in beliefs and practice. One of those traditions is that we call ourselves a a connectional church. A. I think this is an interesting choice of words - for it is true not only of the Methodist church, but for churches everywhere. B. Just as each of us has a single body, so is the Body of Christ - the church. And just as our body is connected with bone and tissue, so is the body of Christ. What connects the church - it is the Holy Spirit that holds us together. C. We put labels on different parts of the church - we have the Baptists, we have the Presbyterians, we have the Catholics, we have the Wesleyans, we have the Free Methodists, we have the Methodists - but they are each a part of the Body of Christ. D. Even as Paul says, "The foot cannot say, because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body of Christ", neither can I say because you are not a member of the body of Christ if you are not a Methodiest. E. There is one church - and that church is the Body of Christ. (Ill.) I had my wife bring an egg to church this morning. No matter how I divide it, it is still a single egg. But like any egg, there are three major parts - the yolk, the white, and the shell. F. Paul describes it this way, "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ." [1 Corinthians 12:12 KJV] 1. Every denomination adds something to the body of Christ 2. Every local church adds something to the body of Christ 3. Every believer adds something to the body of Christ (Appl.) Look around this morning - take a few seconds to acknowledge that each person in this room adds something to the Body of Christ. Each person in this room adds something to the church. Now take a few more seconds to acknowledge that you too add something to the Body of Christ. You add something to the church. II. Being a part of the body of Christ means we are needed (Ill.) Sandra and I are in the midst of celebrating our 6th anniversary of coming to New York. Six years ago this month Sandra made her first trip to Rochester. We flew into Rochester to search for a house. I remember during that first trip trying to find our way from North Chili to the Wegmans store in Chili Center. We made three attempts before we finally found it sitting there at the convergence of Paul Road, Cold Water Road and Chili Avenue. Now that has nothing to do with this sermon. But the other memorable event of that first year does. It was the day before Thanksgiving. Sandra had gotten out of work early and we were going to lunch. We stopped in a neighborhood restaurant and were seated at our table. As we finished lunch, I left the table to pay the bill. Sandra was following me - but missed her step. She fell to the ground with a scream. After calling her doctor, we rushed her to the hospital and found that she had broken a couple of very small bones in her foot. The next six weeks we spent manipulating a pair of crutches and a wheelchair. We found out just how important those two bones really were. A. I don't know what your role in the church is, I don't know what gifts has given you, I do know, like Sandra's foot that winter, you, your gifts, and your talents, would be missed. (Ill.) Earlier this week I was wondering what part of my body I might give up to make my life easier. At first I thought about my left hand, after all I am right handed. I could probably get by without a left hand - till I noticed that I was holding my book in my left hand. So then I thought about my nose - it is kind of ugly, and if I lost my ugly nose I might just be a bit more handsome. But then I remembered a man I knew a number of years ago who lost his nose to cancer. Nobody wanted anything to do with him. Well then what about my feet. I mean they are hurting most of the time - but then I remembered my wifes struggle with a broken foot. Nope I would not want to lose my feet. B. Just as every part of my body has a place, so every part of the church plays a role. And that role is needed. C. All of this works two ways - first God gives what we need. We each need to know that we have what it takes. And God has given just exactly what it takes to accomplish what God wants of us. D. But we are needed on another lever - God gives the chruch exactly what HE needs to accomplish what he wants. I don't know what the future of this church is - but I do know that he has given us, as a body, the gifts and talents and passions the Garland United Methodist Church needs to accomplish all that God intends for us to accomplish. Let me conclude with two applications. First, if you ever get to the point where you feel as if you are not needed - then ask who is giving that message. It is not a message that comes from God. He asks to serve - and he give us, both individually and corporately, It is a message that will seem to Second - take time to look to see where you are needed. What is your ministry within the church? Look for the places where your gifts, talents, and passions can serve God. Conclusion: The church is the Body of Christ 1. The Holy Spirit connects us together a. Whether with the church world wide b. or with our denomination c. or with our local church ------------------------------------- we are connected 2. We are needed a. Both to do what God wants us to do individually b. and to do what God wants the church to do In a few moments we will be taking communion. I fear that too often it is solely an individual event. Let me suggest that we remember that our participation in the Lord's supper is not just something we do individually, but something we share with each other here, with local churches around the world, and with Christians from the very earliest days of the church.

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