“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” – Mother Teresa
It’s time for my twenty third annual post-Easter meditation. Wow! How time flies. This year, before worship, one thing I noticed was that everyone was busy doing something but not everyone was doing the same thing. Some of us were practicing music, some were preparing “hospitality bags” to give to homeless persons we might meet, some were watching or directing the children’s Easter egg hunt, and still others were simply relaxing and enjoying fellowship. Earlier, while some of us were participating in early worship, many of the church’s men were preparing breakfast for the rest of us.
Writing to the Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians and Colossians, Paul compared the church to the human body (Rom. 12:4-5; 1 Cor. 12:12-31; Eph. 4:4-8, 15-16; Col. 1:18), with Christ as the “head.” Clearly, Paul had an attachment to—and appreciation of—this particular metaphor and it helped early Christians to understand how they might contribute and participate. In our individual congregation, members and others participate in various ways. Some sing, some play instruments, some praise, some pray, some encourage, some teach, some lead, others follow, some perform administrative or financial tasks, some care for the building, and others cook (and very well, I might add). Many folks do more than one thing, and do them all well. But everyone has something to contribute.
If there weren’t opportunities to sing or play instruments, my own participation would be much more limited. If there weren’t those who cook, I’d be much hungrier (you should have a pretty good sense of my priorities by now). If there weren’t teachers, I wouldn’t know as much as I do. If there weren’t leaders, I would be like a ship without a rudder. If there were no one to encourage me, I would be very sad indeed. If there weren’t those who praise, worship would be much duller. If there weren’t those who direct the church’s finances, my offerings wouldn’t get where they could do the most good. If there were no one to care for the church building, I’d have to find another place to worship. And if no one was willing to pray, I would have a huge spiritual hole in my life. We don’t need to possess any of those gifts to appreciate those who do have them.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul listed things like preaching, service, teaching, encouragement, generosity, leadership, and mercy as spiritual gifts (Rom. 12:6b-8). He didn’t mention cooking but he probably just forgot. After all, Jesus cooked breakfast for the disciples after his resurrection (John 21:9-14). This may be where we get the tradition of the Easter breakfast. (No, it isn’t really of course but it’s fun to think about it.) It doesn’t matter what we can do, as long as we do it for God. What we’re able to do for the body of Christ isn’t merely service, it’s our gift from God. What we do with it is our gift to God. Any gift or talent we have can be a medium for giving, a channel of grace.
The message of Easter is not only that Christ has been raised (Matt. 28:5-7; Mark 16:5-7; Luke 24:4-7; 1 Cor. 15:20) but that we have been raised as well (Eph. 2:6). And we haven’t been raised for nothing but to be a part of the body of Christ. It’s important not to dismiss our gifts. If you’re feeling called to contribute your gift, your talents, whatever they are, please do. Paul wrote, “For the body itself is not made up of only one part, but of many parts. If the foot were to say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I don’t belong to the body,’ that would not keep it from being a part of the body.” (1 Cor. 12:14-15 Good News Translation). No matter what gift we have or what part we’ve been called to play, we’re still part of the body of Christ and we still have a role to play. If we live for Christ as “Easter people,” others will wonder “what’s cooking?”
“Christ is like a single body, which has many parts; it is still one body, even though it is made up of different parts. In the same way, all of us, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether slaves or free, have been baptized into the one body by the same Spirit, and we have all been given the one Spirit to drink. For the body itself is not made up of only one part, but of many parts. . . . And so there is no division in the body, but all its different parts have the same concern for one another. If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it; if one part is praised, all the other parts share its happiness. All of you are Christ’s body, and each one is a part of it.” (1 Cor. 12:12-14; 25-27 GNT.)