Last Sunday’s lesson from John’s gospel was Jesus praying for the disciples. His prayer ended with him asking God, the Father to make them one as He, Jesus, and God the Father were one. It was a prayer for unity in diversity.
On this Pentecost Sunday the lesson from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians concerns the gifts each had received via the Holy Spirit.
You see the Corinthian church was having problems. There were factions, different groups of believers, who believed that the gifts they had were the only ones the Holy Spirit gave and any other gifts were worthless, of no value to the Church. They were squabbling over how to do worship, how to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, how to be servants living as Jesus asked them to live. They were divided instead of being in union with each other.
So, the question for us today is have we learned anything from Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church? Do we value the gifts of our neighbors even if we don’t understand how they could possibly serve God’s Church or understand how the gift could have come from God? Do we believe that we are all ‘members’ of God’s Church even if we aren’t of the same denomination?
The Church today seems to be struggling with this unity in diversity concept. How can we possibly get it to work? How can we do everything that God seems to be calling us to do? After all we’re getting older and fewer in number.
Paul in his letter used the example of one’s body being made up of different parts all performing a different function, each necessary for the body’s survival yet all working together in perfect harmony, different ‘members’ all working for the common good.
We all know what happens when one of the ‘members’ of the body fails to function as it should. The body suffers.
If Paul were writing the same letter today he might use different examples such as corporations, manufacturing plants, hospitals, schools, city governments, etcetera. Just look at any one of these and we can see what happens when one ‘member’, one part of the body, doesn’t do its job.
I worked in a manufacturing plant for 26 years and I can give you many examples of what happens when one ‘member’ of a team, the body, fails in their assignment. In a manufacturing plant there are hundreds of people working with many different skills and gifts, each one important to the operation of the manufacturing facility and the output of their product.
If we look no further than this community with its different churches and community groups we know they’re all different yet all providing important services to the people of the community…and to each other. We’re experiencing what happens when one of the members dies. We all look at each other and wonder who’s going to do the work that they always did.
I didn’t preach here last Sunday but I did preach at Salem Lutheran Homes this week. The Message was about Jesus praying for the disciples…and the fact that he’s still praying…for us, the body of Christ…in Walnut, in the MRV, and in the world. His prayer then was for unity…and it continues to be same prayer for us to be one body, united, as God the Father and Jesus the Son are One in the Holy Spirit.
So, what do we do? How do we get everything back in sync so that God’s work gets accomplished?
The answer, and it sounds so simple, is love. Love and value the gifts of our neighbors. Love ourselves, and our neighbors, and God, as much as we want to be loved ourselves. Love each other, accept each other, stop being critical of each other and just do what God has given you the skills and the gifts to do. Lean on your neighbor when you need to and let your neighbor lean on you when they get tired and worn.
Thank God every morning for another day to get it right and do God’s work right where he has placed you.
Thanks be to God for his grace. Amen.