Summary: Sermon 4 in a series of 4 sermons reflecting on Paul’s favorite description of the Church as the Body of Christ. In this message we focus on the body’s responsibility to carry out the will of the Head.
CHRISTIAN A & P 101:
CARRYING OUT THE WILL & DIRECTIVES OF THE HEAD
1. Over the past three Sundays we have been examining the Apostle Paul’s favorite description of the Church as the Body of Christ and have reflected thus far on three lessons we learn from our human anatomy and physiology and have made the application to our spiritual or Christian anatomy and physiology.
We have examined thus far:
• THE UNITY OR ONENESS OF THE BODY – made up of many, many different members – all unique and performing very different functions from one another – but absolutely vital for the effective functioning of the entire body – and so we are called to accept and welcome and be thankful for the wide diversity within the Body of Christ.
• THE SUPPORT THE MEMBERS GIVE ONE ANOTHER – we saw that our bodies are not just a loose association of parts but are supported by one another and are firmly bonded to one another by joints and ligaments and muscles and other connecting tissues. In a similar way, in the church, we are specifically connected to certain other members and ultimately to all by very firm and committed bonds of the vows and covenant commitments we have made and continue to make to one another – through baptism, confirmation, church membership, every time we share in Holy Communion with one another we affirm that there is One Bread, One Body and that we are partakers together of the One Cup of Blessing.
• THE SHARING OF COMMUNICATION AND NOURISHMENT – we saw last Sunday that the way in which the body feeds and nourishes itself and conveys information throughout the system is by a process of converting that food into nourishment and energy and then passing it on throughout the system and effectively disposing of the waste materials. Every body part plays a vital and essential role in that process so that the entire body gets fed. It is never left up to one or two body parts to do that – thank goodness! A similar process takes place in the communication of information from the brain, down the brain stem and into the central nervous system to send messages back and forth throughout the entire body. Similarly, within the church, every member receives the very best spiritual nourishment and instruction and growth in discipleship as every member also participates in both the receiving and passing on of the spiritual food and instruction within the Body. When a body part only receives feeding and information without passing it on to the members to which it is connected then we have a serious and potentially dangerous blockage that can result in starvation and eventual death of the connected tissues or loss of feeling and paralysis. The spiritual parallels are equally disastrous.
4. THE BODY CARRIES OUT THE WILL AND DIRECTIVES OF THE HEAD
1. Now this morning we turn our attention to the head which houses the brain, the eyes, the ears, nose, and mouth – the primary sources of input of nourishment and information for the body.
• Through the eyes we see both the beauty and majesty of the creation around us as well as the devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. We see the smiles and joy and exuberance on the face of the recipient of good news as well as the disbelief, the despair, and the tears of those who have just lost what they had never anticipated.
• Through the ears we hear and rejoice over the first yell of a newborn child as well as strain to hear the final whisper of a loved one’s goodbye.
• Through the mouth we receive our essential solids and liquids and through the nose the air we need to breath.
• The brain is there as the master control center, providing the directives of where the body goes, what it does, and how it responds and reacts to all the various stimuli the body receives.
2. All of the other body parts are united in their specific places under the head and are able to carry out their unique function because of that relationship to the head. In a healthy body, no body part operates independently or autonomously from the head.
3. Of course, if there is some kind of brain dysfunction or disconnect from the brain then we can have various body parts – arms, legs, facial and other muscles experiencing involuntary spasms, jerks, and twitches.
• I recall with my father’s advancing Parkinson’s disease how it became impossible for him to hold a glass of water or cup of coffee without spilling the entire contents. It used to frustrate him no end because he had always been such a perfectionist – and no longer being able to control the functions of his own body just made him retreat into greater and greater isolation.