Slow reading: Many members, one body

This is the third in a four week series inviting you to dwell in the Word, ponder what it is to be the church, and discern if the spirit is calling us to anything new. Reflect alone, with your household, or with a friend. Send any insights to Alison, or bring them to the congregational conversation on 28 February (details here). 

Last week, we heard how the earliest believers were organized into a radically interdependent body; this week goes deeper into this arrangement. As you listen to the text and dwell in the Word, notice any resistance within yourself to the text; notice also what intrigues you, excites you, or makes you want to know more.

1. PREPARE: Make yourself comfortable. Uncross your legs; relax your body; uncomplicate your heart. Ask God to help you surrender to whatever it is that God wants to do in you or say to or through you. Breathe slowly and deeply in, then out.

2. READ: Read the following passage aloud at least three times through, slowly. Listen carefully. Notice anything which captures your attention.

  • Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot were to say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear were to say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose … there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Corinthians 12:1-18, 25-27).

3. REFLECT: Allow the passage, a phrase or a single word or image speak to you. What catches your attention? What emotions do you feel? What questions are bubbling up? Reflect in silence.

4. RELATE: Wonder: Do you identify as a member of the body called Sanctuary? If not, where does your resistance lie? If so, what role do you play towards the functioning of the body? How do you contribute? How do you build the body up? What are you called to now? If you can, have a conversation about this with others.

5. RESPOND: Arising out of your reflection and any discussion, pray. Tell God about anything which has emerged. If you feel called to action, ask God to show you/us the next step. Send any insights to Alison, or bring them to our church conversation on 28 February.

6. REST: Rest now in the Word, who loves you. As you leave this space, if any word, phrase or image persists, carry it with you and let it guide you. If nothing in particular arises, remember this:

  • God arranged the members in the body.

In other words, even as you wonder what role you play in the body, know that there is nothing you can do to earn your place. You belong to Sanctuary simply because God drew you in, and you responded to the call. This week, then, I pray that you bask in the fullness of that belonging. I pray that you will know it in your bones for yourself, then for every other member, then finally and prayerfully for those who are yet to hear and respond to God’s invitation to join us.

Peace,
Alison

Emailed to Sanctuary 17 February 2021 © Sanctuary, 2021. Image credit: Pop & Zebra on Unsplash.

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