A Paraphrase of I Corinthians 12:12 – 31a (with just a hint of Luke 4)
For just as the human body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ (whatever the church/we, in its/our sinfulness, may choose/s to express). For in the ONE Holy Spirit we were all baptized into ONE body — white or aboriginal, rich or poor — and we were all made to drink of ONE Holy Spirit.
Indeed, the human body does not consist of one member but of many (Oh, if only St. Paul had known!), and so it is with the body of Christ. If the liberal Christian would say, “Because I am not a literalist, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the conservative Christian would say, “Because I am not a political activist, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were Roman Catholic, where would the Pentecostals be? If the whole body were Pentecostal, where would the Orthodox be? But as it is, God arranges the members in the body, each one of them, as God chooses. If all were Lutheran, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body of Christ. The Anglican in Ontario cannot say to the Anglican in the Arctic, “I have no need of you,” nor again the Anglican in the Arctic say to the Anglican in New Westminster, “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 honourable we clothe with greater honour, 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 honour to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body (Ed. Note: Well, we sort of manage one week a year, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity… Can you work with that, God?), but the members may have the same care for one another. If one Christian or one Christian church suffers, all of us suffer together with him/her/it. (Ed. Note: !!!!!!?????) If one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it. (Ed. Note: That sounds a little more palatable.)
Now you (PLURAL, all of you, together) 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. God appoints, God chooses. Are we listening carefully? Are all apostles? No, that would be too many. Are all prophets? No, we have a hard enough time with the ones we already have. Are all teachers? No, but we could use a few more! Do all work miracles? Hmm… You see, we do need others after all. Do all possess gifts of healing? That would be great! But do we even recognize those who are already among us, the healers already at work? Do all speak in tongues? Not in our part of the household of faith, probably, but, remember again, it’s much bigger than us! Do all interpret? No, they don’t, although more probably could, if they set heart and mind to it… But strive for the greater gifts. And what might those be, Saint/Brother/Father Paul? What is that more excellent way?
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
What’s that you say? That’s not just about Jesus? It’s about me? About us? About the people of St. John’s Cathedral, Winnipeg, and the Diocese of Rupert’s Land and the Anglican Church of Canada and the Anglican Communion and the whole household of faith, the Oikoumene, the whole body of Christ in the world? Ah, I see, and that brings us back to where we began, doesn’t it?
“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… Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”
Thanks be to God!