We are the body of Christ. These words fascinate and challenge me more and more with the passing of time. When I was in my early twenties and invincible, I didn't give the matter a second thought, other than to marvel my inclusion in God's work in the world. It seemed self-evident that we individuals and as a Christian community could physically become Jesus's eyes and ears, hands and feet, heart and mind in the world. All we needed do was pray, read scripture and break bread together in order to keep ourselves attuned to God's will, and all the rest would follow.
But of course, with the passing of time, our individual physical bodies change, and our understanding of the frailties of the collective body – our church community – becomes more acute. A few encounters with ill health or accident are enough to teach most of us that our bodies are far from invincible. And likewise, anyone who's had a chalenging encounter or two with church structures or politics or (yes, it happens!) other members of the congregation, knows only too well how fallible we can be when we come together to worship and serve God.
Yet the miracle is that God has the capacity to use our frailties just as fully – and sometimes in more profound ways – than he uses our strength. For my part, my faith is more grounded and my understanding of ministry more nuanced as a result of engaging prayerfully with times of physical frailty. And although church life can be bruising at times, it is in moments when hurt surfaces that we can all come to a deeper appreciation of what we really value and what we are prepared stand our ground for.
But of course the image of the body of Christ is a good deal richer even than that. Bodies are complex and wonderful. In their wholeness and even in their brokenness, they can teach us so much about God's creation and God's activity in the world. So this Lent, I have invited speakers to help us explore how the body - even the less glamorous parts the body – can point us towards God. I do hope that you can join us for some of those sessions, which promise to be rich and interesting.
And as enter into this season of penitence and renewal, I wish you a holy and blessed Lent.
o - O - o