Thursday, January 18, 2007

Third Sunday after Epiphany - C3

Years C
1 Corinthians 12:12-31a

Now you are the body of . . .
and individually members of . . .

At first blush this is a wonderful formula. Unfortunately it soon runs afoul others in the same body and confusion as the body is variously understood as a religious experience, national identity, family blood, service organization purpose, or any other corporate identity that might get pitted against another until we are at each other's throats vying for power (Bears and Saints, to use an American football image).

I am that which I am joined to and have both communal and individual identities. Like it or not, being part of the body of Christ puts me in connection with some very questionable characters, including Jesus. To pull my individual Christian identity too closely around me would finally isolate me from every other Christian and to have theirs pulled too closely around me makes me want to give up an identity I have cherished. It is important to claim Christ as larger than any of our Christianities.

As we begin another Week of Christian Unity (January 18-25) one might wonder how we are doing after 99 years of the celebration of this week and nearly 2,000 years of this scripture.

It is so easy to get into rankings within a body. Are we talking first Apostles or executively-privileged Presidents, or Father as family head or . . . ? Are we talking spiritual values trumping national values which take family values that in turn ranks higher than . . . ? If I am members of several bodies what happens when they are in conflict, when my patriotism claims my religion?

It is nice to have such a formula at hand to use against others when they don't measure up. It would be even better to have clarity about the limits of such a formula and a way to cut through the "apples and oranges" choices of real life.

How does this work in a world that is increasingly mistaking religion for nationalism and permitting one small segment of family values to smash larger family values by excluding those of a variety of sexual orientations? Between and within any aspect of this formula there are gaps that will only be healed by an application of "the greater gifts. . . ."

Without the greater gifts conversation, this one is fraught with danger.

= = = = = = =

I sing a song of the saints of G*D,
patient and brave and true,
who prayed and thought and lived and died
with the G*D they loved and knew.
And one was a Buddhist, one was a Muslim,
one was a Christian, and one was a Jain;
they were all of them saints of G*D, and I mean,
G*D helping, to be one too.

[Variation on I Sing a Song of the Saints of God in honor of the Magi who were the best Magi they knew to be.]

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