Monday, September 08, 2008

Sept. 6 Sermon: Spine, Muscles, and Sinew

Sermon Text:
Matthew 25: 14-30
Romans 12: 4-8

Sorry, no audio-sermon today--something messed up with our gabcast. Here are my notes.

Wesley’s notes:. “So we - All believers. Are one body - Closely connected together in Christ, and consequently ought to be helpful to each other.”

Such a simple idea. Reflects Paul’s metaphor. Isn’t it the case that the different aspects and parts of our body work in concert and are of benefit to one another? Our muscles are woven together, our spine brings electric messages to our hands and our feet in order to move us to where we need to go.

You’ve heard that saying, “So and so doesn’t have a spine,” or “grow a spine!” We all know what that means, right—get some courage! Get some direction!

Right now the lay leadership committee and I are looking for people with a spine to be the spine of our congregation. We need to replace a church council chair, a trustee chair, a PPR chair, among others, who have heard “job well done my good and faithful servant.”

The church must have people who are willing to listen, through prayer and discernment, to the will of God, and then delegate that will out among the people of our congregation—much like a spine carries the will of the mind to the muscles and hands and feet. If our congregation doesn’t have a spine, we will be like that “spineless” person who has no courage or direction.

But I’m not saying this to chastise us, I’m saying this to celebrate the necessity and the function of those of you who have taken on these roles in the past and who are prayerfully considering these roles in the future. Because of you, we are a body of Christ with a spine.

As necessary as the spine are the muscles which take the assignments and the direction of the spine and move the body in the appropriate direction. But what else are your roles in the mystical body? There must be strong bonds between the muscles. We’ve all seen and perhaps experienced, I know of one case at least, a football player end their season with a torn muscle or ligament.

When fractures occur between the people in the congregation, our functioning as a body of Christ becomes hampered by that injury.

We are slowed down, we are impaired—by the fractures that occur in our relationships, especially our relationships with one another in our local congregation—but we can speak of this fracture in a larger church sense too.

The fractures of differing worldviews, different values, can hamper the body of Christ in the same way a torn ligament will restrain a football player. Our opponent has an advantage when the Body of Christ is torn and consumed by its own squabbles and differences.

And what happens to muscles when they are being used and active? They grow—I think this is something we can expect from this body of Christ when we are carrying out the work of Christ. We can and will grow larger, and muscle mass will be added to this Body of Christ.

As well as growing in size, we also grow in depth as disciples. Our spirits, like muscles, become more toned and attractive, as long as we are remaining active and alert to the will of our head—Jesus Christ.
The hard truth is that growth can be painful. We have all felt that soreness of the muscles after working out. A group of people must confront issues and conflict and disagreement when new people join a community and perhaps renew debates that have supposedly been settled.

When our growth is a deepening growth in our spiritual lives, there are likewise inner confrontations and issues that do come up. Spiritual growth incorporates those confrontations and issues.

Not all disagreement or conflict in the body is bad, muscles grow because new there is stress to the existing muscle.

The danger of being sedentary holds the same danger for the Mystical Body of Christ as it does for our physical bodies. We grow weak—unable to carry out the desire of the Christ/Mind. Chances are, we also grow fat, and the fat has a good chance of killing us. What does it look like when a congregation is sedentary? The congregation is most likely myopic and inwardly focused. The congregation cares little for what goes on in the world and community around it. The congregation becomes single-minded and risk averse. We pray that the Spirit stays with us and we continue to resist the pull of Spiritual Couch Potatoism!

That’s the purpose of this Vision Plan that you will be asked to support this month. We stay vigorously aware of why we do the things we do as a congregation, and we hatch new ideas for ministry and relating to our community. We are alert for the signals from our head—and we embody those signals to carry the Body where it needs to go.

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