Thursday of Epiphany III – I Corinthians 12:12-31a

12 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. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should 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. 16 And if the ear should 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. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

21 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.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

In 2005, hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, killing more than 1,800 people. Local officials pleaded for help and over 300 boat owners showed up at the Acadiana Mall and launched into the turbid and dangerous waters which had inundated the city. They were credited with rescuing over 10,000 people. They quickly took the name of “Cajun Navy.” Not much to look at, they were a motley assortment of bass boats, johnboats, and the usual cast of aquatic conveyance you see sitting in the driveways and front yards of the area. Their operators were not the people you might dub “heroic” in other circumstances. They were good old boys who might have spent too much time fishing. If you have ever been in this part of the world, you know the sort of folks we are talking about. But they know how to operate a boat.

Paul speaks today of a body which is made up of many parts, an image of a diverse and sometimes chaotic Christianity. My son recently attended Christmas morning services in Bethlehem and was somewhat taken aback by the large contingent of Indian Christians who had all come wearing Santa hats with flashing lights embedded in them.

God does call different sorts of people, some of whom might even make me uncomfortable, into His body, the Church. I have worshiped with ex-convicts, military heroes, the developmentally disabled, and some holding PhD’s from prestigious institutions of learning. There have been steely women who have navigated challenging events and quietly competent men who surprised me with skills I could not imagine. There were foolish and wise, great and small, every imaginable dichotomy. The same Holy Spirit blows through them all.   

We might be tempted to look askance as we drive by that rundown house with an old truck and a fishing boat parked haphazardly in the front lawn. Those are not always good places, and the folks inside can be difficult. Or God might just be stocking up resources for a day when I need to be rescued from floodwaters lapping at my rooftop. Jesus walked by the shores of Galilee and summoned fisherman to become fishers of men. He has room and purpose for all sorts of folks in His kingdom.

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