There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink.
-1 Corinthians 12:12 & 13 (New International Reader’s Version)
It seems that this October, God is calling us to reflect upon how the Christians all over the world are a part of one Body, and God is calling us also to celebrate all of the diversity within our unity. We begin the month with World Communion Sunday (October 1), a day that has been set aside by churches of various denominations all over the world to celebrate the fact that no matter where we might be, what kind of bread and wine we might consume, or how we might be worshiping, we all dine at the same Table together, and Christ is our host. In our little corner of the world, at Delafield Presbyterian Church, we will celebrate our differences with an intergenerational worship service, designed to help kids of all ages to think about how those who are different from us are a gift from God, given to us to help us to learn and to grow and to be inspired.
And this year, we will end the month on a similar note, for October 31st marks the 500th anniversary of the day when an Augustinian theologian and monk named Martin Luther unwittingly sparked the Protestant Reformation, a reformation that created many branches of Christianity, such as the Lutherans, the Methodists, and, of course, the Presbyterians. One of the reasons that the Protestant Reformation is still significant and meaningful for us today is that it opened up space for different ideas about how to follow Jesus and how to exist as the Church of Jesus Christ in this world to thrive and grow side-by-side. In a sense, the Church was forced to learn (though we are still in the process of learning this lesson) that our unity as the Body of Christ is not founded in our uniformity of in doctrine, culture, dogma or liturgy. Rather, it is founded in Christ’s love for us. Though we Christians may have our quarrels with those who think differently than we do, and with those whose worship may look foreign to us, we can remember that Christ has called us all as his representatives in our particular times and places.
In the spirit of World Communion Sunday, and of the reformation, let us remember that no single tradition has seen the face of God, or knows perfectly the will of God, or fully understands the heart of God, or completely loves each move of the Spirit of God. Therefore, we can only gain from hearing the perspectives of others with open hearts and minds, for with each different perspective and understanding about God, we might catch a glimpse of another aspect of God’s person, of something else that is incredible about God that perhaps we had never thought about before. When we learn from our differences, we get a fuller idea of who our God is. Therefore, let us celebrate our differences and look to others to help us to know God more!
Yours in Christ,