1 Cor 12:12-25; John 17:20-26
2nd Sunday of Epiphany
St Barbara’s 12.1.2020 8am
Rev Tulo Raistrick
On Saturday begins the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, a week when we remember that we are not just individual Christians or individual churches but that we are part of a worldwide Church – that we are all one. As part of that locally we will be doing a number of things – having a shared meal on Saturday evening, having a shared service on Sunday evening and on Sunday morning swapping around the ministers. In preparation for this week, it seems appropriate that we should focus on the theme of being the body of Christ.
Well, lets go back to the time of the New Testament. St Paul was writing to the church in Corinth in Greece. There were lots of amazing things happening – the church was growing, miracles were happening, people were coming to faith – but there were lots of challenges too. One of those challenges was that people didn’t work together – they were even sometimes in competition with each other: “I follow Apollos” some would say; “No – I follow Paul”, others would say. Some felt valued and appreciated for what they did. Others felt they had nothing to offer. So Paul wrote to them comparing the church to a body.
Each part of the body is important. Each of us has different but important parts to play. We each have different gifts and skills. They all lead to making us one body, one people that together worship God.
Everyone is needed. No one is surplus to requirements. No matter how old or young, on the fringe or feeling too busy, everyone has something to give.
Babies bring delight
Toddlers can show us what trust is like
Children, as we experience each week when children report back from Hive, can help us learn about faith
The oldest of us can share life experience and wisdom
Others, even if housebound or unwell, can pray or write notes of encouragement
Others can use their practical skills to fix things;
use their musical gifts to lead us in worship;
use their gardening skills to make the church grounds look beautiful
we can all, by the way we talk to one another and support one another, give the gift of love
Take a moment to think: in 2020, what is God calling me to give to the life of the church? What special thing can I give to the life of the body? (Remember: everyone is needed.)
Being one body means not only giving, but being willing to receive. Sometimes, we may like to feel independent, sometimes we may even want to describe ourselves as “fiercely independent”, not needing to rely on anyone, but being part of one body means that we need each other – we cannot do it all on our own. The ear cannot smell, the eye cannot hear.
Just pause for a minute and ask yourself: what do you receive from others in the church? what do others do for you?
Isn’t it wonderful to be part of one body: to be able to give and receive from one another.
In our gospel reading, we heard how Jesus prayed that not just his disciples, but all those who believed – in other words, all Christians – would be one, would be united, so that the world would see and experience the love of God.
We are one body here; but we are also part of a bigger body.
We are part of Christ’s body here in Earlsdon. Along with the other churches in the area we are one body and we have seen some great examples of the churches acting as one body:
Coventry Winter Night Shelter – hosted by All Souls, and supported by all the other churches in the area
Good Neighbours – initially started by us, but now with volunteers from across all the churches in the area, and beyond
Debt counselling and support – this begins next month, and is another great example of the churches working together
Prayers and Bears – run by St Barbara’s, hosted by Earlsdon Methodist and attended by children and adults of over 10 different churches
We are part of Christ’s body here in Coventry as well. Through working with other Christians we are helping to share Christ’s love across the city. Last year we gave over £8,500 to the work of poorer churches in our city, like the lunch club run by St John’s Willenhall and to Christian organisations working with poor and vulnerable people, including Carriers of Hope and Coventry City Mission. We have members of our church working with Hope Coventry (the umbrella group for many churches across the city): with the Coventry Winter Night Shelter, with the Prayer House, and with Good Neighbours.
And we are part of Christ’s body across the whole world. Last year we were able to give £4000 to churches and Christian organisations across the world, including the church in Kapsabet, Kenya, and Tearfund, Barnabas Fund and the Ibba Girls School in South Sudan. As a PCC we were able to host the visit of Elizabeth and Bethuel from Kapsabet and learn about their inspiring work.
Not only do we give. We receive too. We are inspired by the faith and growth of the church, despite struggles and hardships.
We are part of one body – and we express that here in St Barbara’s, in our community and city, and in the world. May God help each one of us to give and receive generously to one another.