Saturday, January 23, 2016
Of Snowstorms and Communion and Being the Body
There’s a funny thing that happens during the lead up to snow storms and the hours of flakes falling. And it’s a split-brained experience. Part of it looks like frenzied “milk and bread” crazies.
And part of it looks like this post from the Bangor Maine Police Facebook:
“Dear Mid-Atlantic of these United States of America.
I think we all knew it could happen. Every year when you pack up your well tanned family and head back home from our tiny piece of paradise, you look back and see us raking up our leaves and putting our snow shovels by the door. You always sigh, knowing that we will be dealing with winter in a far different way than you will.
Listen, this storm is going to miss us. This is not typical and we want to share a little advice of how to make it through an epic "snow event" unscathed. We want you to come back next year. Here are a few tips.
1. Don't panic. It's just frozen rain. It does go away so don't try to move too much at one time.
2. Don't shovel too early and don't wait too long. Pace yourself. Go out every few hours and move a little at a time. It can hurt your back, arms and legs. You always wonder why we all walk funny. It is not because of the clam chowder.
3. Heart attacks in big snow storms are rather common. Help out your neighbor who is older, out of shape or that has known health problems. Helping them move some snow (better yet, let your offspring do it) is better than calling EMS while you are doing CPR. Seriously.
7. Toilets flush without electricity. If you fill your tub with water, you can use it for all kinds of things, including flushing the toilet. Also, to wash cereal bowls.
8. Fill your car up with gas. If you get stuck somewhere and have to run the car, make sure you clean out around the tail pipe and do not fall asleep with the car running. We need you to come back next summer.
Most of all, take care of each other. Be nice and invite neighbors to hole up at one location. Hide expensive things, but help them. (that's the cop talking).
You will be fine. We drink lots of coffee and complain when we get hit like this storm. It works ok. It makes us grouchy but that's why you come here in the summer. To hear stories from grumpy Mainers who sell lobster traps. Now, you will have some of your own to share with us when you get back.
Be safe and well... The men and women of the Bangor Police Department are rooting for you. You got this.”
Behind all the snarky tone though is one part of what our reading from 1 Corinthians is about.
Here’s the reading:
1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
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 would 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 would 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. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that 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 honored, all rejoice together with it.
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But strive for the greater gifts.
In weather storms we seem to get the body. But in life storms not as much.
When I was growing up, I had a Sunday School teacher who had an accident while mowing the lawn. She had lost her footing and ended up losing two toes. And as it turns out the toe you need most is the smallest one- it’s the one that brings balance. While she lived on without the two smallest toes on one foot, her body didn't move as easily, or pain free as it would otherwise. And so it is with is.
We all need each other and are in fact created for being a body. Which means that the frenzied fear, or the hierarchy of need and want we can create is in fact, not the better way.
We belong together. Eating together, drinking together, laboring together and rejoicing together.
While much of the news magnifies self sufficiency, and building walls and divisions. While much of our rhetoric speaks of who we don’t need or want, there is a deeper and far more magnificent movement at work.
It is seen in the rejoicing of a group of Finnish Lutherans who were offered Holy Communion by priests at a mass held in St. Peter's Basilica following a meeting with Pope Francis on January 15. After the personal audience with the pope, the delegation was present at a celebration of the Catholic mass. According to Bishop Salmi, at the time of communion the non-Catholics placed their right hands on their left shoulders, a traditional way of indicating that they were ineligible to receive the Eucharist. However, the celebrating priests insisted on giving them communion.
Despite the body language, the body of the church experienced something different than walking awkwardly and in pain. The body experienced the celebration of wholeness.
As news of this has manifested itself, the ripples of joy I have seen make my heart glad. The stories of people who long to commune with their family, who long to be accepted in the body.
No more fighting over bread. At the table or in the world.
It sounds so simple, and yet just as challenging to sustain as being willing to listen to the local boy made good in Nazareth. Jesus finds the crowds think the fulfillment of scripture in him is impossible, and are ready to fight.
How much harder for us, then?
Frederick Buechner wrote in Peculiar Treasures:
When you came right down to it, what was God up to, for God's sweet sake, sending them all out-prophets, apostles, evangelists, teachers, the whole tattered bunch - to beat their gums and work themselves into an early grave?
God was making a body for Christ, Paul said. Christ didn't have a regular body any more so God was making him one out of anybody he could find who looked as if he might just possibly do. He was using other people's hands to be Christ's hands and other people's feet to be Christ's feet, and when there was some place where Christ was needed in a hurry and needed bad, he put the finger on some maybe-not-all-that-innocent bystander and got him to go and be Christ in that place himself for lack of anybody better.
And how long was the whole great circus to last? Paul said…until we all make it to where we're like him, he said-"to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-13). Christs to each other, Christs to God. All of us. Finally. It was just as easy, and just as hard, as that.
And so it is still. The good news is that we will always be invited into being a whole body centered in that greater way.
Here's a bread and milk snow frenzy meme: