Trinity Sunday, May 26, 2002 Central Presbyterian Church, Austin, TX

1 Corinthians 3: 10-17

"We are the Temple of God"

by PLS

Let us pray:

"Father it is a glorious thing to get to know (You) in a new way in the inner chamber. It is something still greater and more glorious to know (You) as the all-sufficient One and to wait on (Your) Spirit to open our hearts and minds wide to receive the great things, the new things which (You) really long to bestow on those who wait for (You).

(Andrew Murray. May 18; Prayer Changes Things.)

Sing "Father we are here"

"Jesus, we are here. We feel your spirit bringing us nearer.

Your face is suddenly clearer than all the world surrounding.

Father, we are here. As You increase, Lord, we become less,

Your creation living to bless you. Oh, Father, we are here."

~Twilla Paris


We feel God's awesome presence when we sing hymns of praise and worship. We experience God's peace when we seek His face in prayers. We know the breeze on our face is God's ruach, His breathe that gently leads us down the path ways of life. But do we feel, do we experience and do we know that we are the Temple of the Living God?

Let's visualize the temple in Jerusalem a moment: If we were to come up from the Kidron Valley from Bethany through the Golden Gate and move west, we would find ourselves at the temple mount. The outer court of the Gentiles, is a place where all nations can gather....there is no distinction (unless you are Jewish) at which we can enter into the Beautiful Gate that opens into the Women's court. Here, we see in each corner of this court, a chamber for oils, Nazirites, lepers and wood. If we are an Israelite man we could go further in through the Nicanor gate, and enter into the Court of the Israelites we would see directly in front of us, through the next veil an altar for sacrifice and slaughter house in the Priests Court. This court was reserved only for the priests. To our right, behind the altar, a laver of water was provided for the priest so he could wash his hands before and after slaughtering the daily morning and evening sacrifices. Behind the slaughter house, on our right, we see a priest offering up the sacrificial blood on the flame of the hearth. Directly behind this bloody, smelly Priests Court would be the most important part of the temple mount.

One time of year, on the Day of Atonement the prepared high priest would carry the special sacrifical blood and enter the porch, sanctuary and finally behind a maze of veils or curtains where the Holy of holies housed the golden ark of the covenant. (If you saw the movie "Indiana Jones and the Lost Ark" hopefully you are tracking with me on the imagery). The priest would sprinkle the sacrificial blood upon this ark between the two cherubim on top of the ark. This sacred place on top of the ark was called the mercy seat. If God granted mercy and forgave the people that year the high priest would depart back through the maze of veils or curtains and pass through the sanctuary and porch back out into the Priests Court, Court of the Israelites, Women and Gentiles to proclaim God's favor and forgiveness of sins for the past year.....(Hull.180).

Now let's see what our passage in 1 Cor. 3:10-17 has to say to us today, Paul says we are the temple of the living God. But let's look at what he might be referring to in the surrounding passages, before and aft.* Paul is telling the Corinthian church that the divisions of jealousy and quarreling behavior that is going on in this church about who they belong to is causing them to forget whom they truly belong to. They do not belong to Apollos or Paul... Paul planted or founded the church in Corinth. Apollo followed by watering the seeds already planted by teaching after Paul left Corinth. But God was the one who gave the Corinthian church growth. God is the one who multiplies. God is the one who owns the fields or churches. We are all servants or co-labours in God's fields and God's buildings.

Paul is reminding us....Central Presbyterian Church is not Rev. Greg McDonell's church, it is not Rev. Jim Newman's church, it is God's church... His construction... His building... His temple. And Paul is referring to the building or temple as the Body of Christ. That is you!

*Now let's look at what comes after our passage. Paul is cautioning that all believers of Christ Jesus should not boast about human leaders pass, present or future. Again Paul is reminding us "--- all belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God."(3:22-23 RSV) So therefore we are the Temple of the Living God. We house God's Spirit. Jesus' Spirit within our corporate body. The Body of Christ in this place.

According to vs. 11 we hear that the foundation stone of this temple is Jesus Christ. Do you remember in the gospel of Mark where Jesus claimed several times that he would be killed but in three days he would be raised again? This really baffled people they had never heard of one raising after one was pronounced dead. In fact the Jewish leaders used this blasphemous statement to accuse Jesus and sentence him to a cruel death on the cross.

Well, do you remember what happened in Mark 15: 29: those who were at his crucifixion derided Jesus hanging on the cross and shook their heads and said, "Aha, YOU, who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!" But we know what happened Jesus died. In fact Mark says in verses 37 & 38 of this same 15th chapter. "Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last (breath). And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom."

Now you say, what does the temple have to do with Jesus death? Well, the temple in Jesus' time was a place where God's presence dwelt but it was also a cultic worship place where sacrifices where made daily in the morning and in the evening. But the temple was not only a place and symbol of immense religious importance, it was also a political and economic center (Hawthorne. 923). The Jewish leaders made decisions as to what could be sold for sacrifices and how much people would have to pay for the purified doves, goats and lambs. Not just any sacrifice was sufficient.

Jesus paid with His life blood on the cross at Calvary for all our sins. His sacrifice was sufficient to pay for the atonement of us all so we could stand before God as a forgiven people. Jesus has made us holy. Jesus'

"incarnation has brought holiness into everyday life: Emmanuel--God with us. The veil of the temple separating the holy from the common has been removed. Though we are sinners, God sees us as his holy ones, saints, because of the blood of Jesus. And all created things, including the common and the ordinary, share in the reconciliation (Col 1:20)"

(Songs for Revival. Janzen. 53).

When the Jews thought of the temple it brought to mind their past, present and future. Jesus also thought often of this place of worship and became a matter of grave concern, interest and controversy as we have already heard. When the Corinthians thought of Grecian sanctuaries and temples they were reminded of the diverse pagan gods and goddesses they use to worship. In fact, their edifices were still a daily reminder of their former immoral life. The apostle Paul was not only aware of these pagan practices but was also acknowledging the significance of the temple in Jerusalem. Paul knew this was a new age, a new time where the temple imagery would consist of God's new work in Christ. This missionary also knew the significance of the Greek temples and sanctuaries of other deities in Corinth and other Greek places like Ephesus and Athens.

It is interesting that the word Paul uses for temple in the Greek is not for the whole temple mount, which would include the Court of the Gentiles, Women and Israelite Men, Priests and the holy sanctuary. But Paul uses naon which is the holiest of all places, where the ark of the covenant was kept, the one only designated where the high priest could only enter one time a year on the Day of Atonement, to sacrifice for the sins of all the people. This place was called the Holy of Holies. So Paul is telling us we are corporately, together as we gather to worship here today, we are the Holy of Holies. The temple where the presence of the Living God dwells. Clarence Jordan in his Cotton Patch Version of Paul's Epistles says it this way: "Aren't you all aware that you are God's "mansions" in which God's Spirit lives? And if any one messes up God's house, God will mess him up. For God's house (and that includes everyone of you) is indeed a sacred thing" (51).

We are no longer limited by the Jewish universal religion where there is an outer periphery and wall separating the Courts of Gentiles, Women and Israelite Men but we all can enter together into the Holy of Holies as the priesthood of all believers (Hull. 49). Jesus is our Mediator and High Priest and He welcomes us in.

I hope you feel really special and precious right now, you should. You are God's special dwelling abode. The Kingdom of God has come, people of Central. This sanctuary is not the place where you sit it is within each of you, corporately as you worship God. The Spirit that we invited here last week at Pentecost is within each of you. The Spirit dwells within each of you who were baptized.

So if we are the temple of God, we are to take care of one another. We are to nurture our bodies and each other. We are to treat our bodies reverently with respect. We are to respect each other. It is our responsibility to build up the Body of Christ. To use the right materials of love, peace, joy, patience, kindness and gentleness when we build up and edify the Body of Christ. Why? because we, here at Central Presbyterian are the Temple of the Living God.

We are the shrine of the Holy Spirit. He lives here and here and here...... (Point to my heart....then point to the congregation, individually). The Resurrected Lord Jesus through His Holy Spirit empowers us to give of ourselves to the upbuilding of Christ Body in the world. It is our apostolic mission to give to the poor, care for the homeless, provide food for the hungry and love our neighbors as ourselves. All those outside these four walls, Central are our neighbors. Every person you meet, on the street, in the store, in your neighborhood. Where ever you see another person you meet this is your neighbor.

Let these you meet see where you have been today. They will see Jesus in you. Why? because you are the Temple of the Living God. God's presence has dwelt with you today in this place of worship and praise. God's presence leaves a mark called the shekinna glory when God has gazed upon your countenance, your spirit house, your temple. You shine with God's glory.

God's purifying fire will take hold of you and blaze a way where there wasn't a way. Just as the three Hebrew children, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were purified in God's presence in the fiery furnace so will the children of God be here at Central Presbyterian Church. Nothing will be able to destroy what God has ordained and orchestrated. No Education program, Mission project, Long-Range Building project, Choir CD or Vacation Bible School will able to be stopped or fail if God ordained for it to happen within this Temple of God. God can not be stopped. Nebuchadnezzar couldn't stop the three Hebrew children, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from worshiping their God Almighty. It says in Daniel 3:27 that "their hair was not singed, their clothes were not (burned or) harmed and not even the smell of fire came from them. They came out of the fiery furnace smelling like a rose. This was a miraculous happening and even Nebuchadnezzar found out who God was in his day. But you know what if your neighbors see you are not burned by trials and persecutions they will also see who God is in this day and time.

This is a mystery that I speak. This is the mystery that Paul speaks...We are the temple of the Living God. A. J. Russell tells us in God Calling:

"Earth gave Me her best --- a human temple to enclose My Divinity, and I brought to her the possession of Divine Power, Divine Love, Divine Strength, to be for ever expressed in those of her children who accepted Me, opened their hearts to Me, and sought to live My Life. So, kneeling in a spirit of humility, turn your eyes Heavenward and realize the majesty, the Power, the Beauty that may be yours. Remember there is no limits to My giving--" (163).

We inhabit his glory, his flame of the Spirit within us. We can speak God's wisdom and grace to others we come in contact with on a daily basis. Have you ever thought about that?

So often our Protestant interpreters have understood this body/ temple concept metaphorically (Hawthorne. 78) but today I say this is a biological and mystical fact. We have an image of God stamped on us when we are baptized in the waters of this font. (Point to font). When Lettie was baptized we felt God's presence, remember? We experienced God's presence when we sang, "Holy, Holy, Holy," this morning. We know we are fearfully and wondrously made from dust and breath (Ps. 139:4).

I want to leave you with an image I heard from a wise woman this spring in an Alpha Course I took at a Covenant Presbyterian. We were talking and searching about the meaning behind life and how we were made and formed of Spirit. When this woman told us a story about how she observed as a neo-natal and hospice nurse how the cycle of life and breath was so similar-when breath comes into a baby's body at birth, it was so abrupt and loud, the baby cried to fill it's tiny lungs for the first time of the ruach breath of God. Now, contrast that with how this same ruach breath of God leaves a body at death, it is slow and gentle at the very end of life. In all her years as a nurse in these two units of death and birth, she had noticed such an incredible peace when a baby was born and when she was holding a person's dying body. She helped us see the awesome power of God's creative work in all His creation that night at Alpha.

Why is this Spirit, ruach breath of God similiar? It is because it is a mystery, a mystical fact that we can't prove....but we know it, have perhaps experience it, maybe even felt it.

Be still a moment watch your own chest rise and fall.(Look down at your own chest) How does that happen? I don't know but air is being exchanged. Look again! (Look down again) Did you feel that? Did you feel the air go in and out of your lungs? Look again! (Look down again) Did you experience how the air came in?! We know by our very lives that we are we mysteriously and wondrously made. We are made of dust, the ruach breath of God and the Spirit of God. Central Presbyterian you are filled with God's Spirit by just inhaling and exhaling the air around you. Be filled with God's Holy Spirit this morning and walk out of here blessed to do His will and His purpose and to share the dwelling place of the Most High God! You are a blessing of the Lord! You have been a blessing to me this semester! You are the Temple of the Living God! God Bless each and everyone of you!

Let us pray: (SING)

"You have been faithful when I have been faithless, oh unending fountain of grace. For ever giving when I have been selfish, oh unending fountain of grace. Still the beginning of all that is holy unsearchable ancient of days. I kneel before you and offer this vessel, oh unending fountain of grace.

You have been constant when I chose to wander, oh, unending fountain of grace. And You were forgiveness when I cried for mercy, oh, unending fountain of grace. You are the author of all that is finished, I owe You my life and my praise. I kneel before you and offer this vessel, oh unending fountain of grace. Pour out the water of life on this vessel , oh unending fountain of grace."

~Twilla Paris

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

"You are not your own"

by PLS

Let us pray:

Lord God, we ask that you speak to our hearts and spirits today a clear word about who we are and to whom we belong in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior.....

Sing "Father we are here"

"Jesus, we are here. We feel your spirit bringing us nearer.

Your face is suddenly clearer than all the world surrounding.

Father, we are here. As You increase, Lord, we become less,

Your creation living to bless you. Oh, Father, we are here."

~Twilla Paris


Visualize with me if you will, Your Savior standing right in front of you with His arms wide open and bidding you to come to Him as a child. You turn and run up to Him and throw your arms up to meet His warm embrace. You realize Jesus is holding you close. His hugs and kisses are soothing your hurts, pains, ailments and sorrows. He loves you greatly and you know this deep down in the pit of your spirit and stomach. You sense he will never leave you nor forsake you. You want to stay here forever....but you know you have work to do. You bid Jesus a quick kiss on His check and hop down off His lap and scamper away a child who knows to whom you belong....

Paul uses these words, "You are not your own." What does he mean by that? Everything in our culture tells us we own ourselves. I am my own. No one owns me but me! Revisit our vision a moment. Jesus embraced you as His own, as a loving parent, beloved brother or cherished friend would hold and cherish a child, a sibling or friend. For a moment in our vision we are one with Christ. Our bodies are molded to each other in that loving embrace, we have become one with Jesus who is holding us and sharing his love with us. Paul is reminding the Corinthian church and us in, 1 Cor. 6:19-20, as he declares "You are not your own. For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body." The literal translation of Paul's word for price in the Greek is "honor's price." So, what is this honor's price?

Jesus paid his life's blood for you. He died on a cross to take all your sicknesses, pains, sins and sorrows and took all these afflictions upon His body when He died for us all. Jesus rose again from the dead to give us live eternal. God loved us so much He sent His only Son into the world. Jesus came to earth to live as one of us. He knows us. Jesus is Emmanuel --- God with us. God loves you, God cares for you and God wants you to know you belong to His love, care and provision. The price has been paid in full for your life and redemption. We do not belong to ourselves we belong to Christ..

This idea seems to be central to Paul's thought in 1 Cor. so why is this idea so important? *Let's look briefly at what comes before and after our passage today. Chapter 6 is dealing with complaints and lawsuits that the people of God are bringing against each other in Corinth. Paul reminds this beloved brothered-ones that lawsuits and greediness that stems from this kind of judgment will not solve their problems and divisions. It will only stir up the pot and cause ungodly actions of guile and rob them of God's inheritance of sanctification and justification.

* The aft piece in Chapter 7 is developing the thought about the oneness of the covenant of marriage and the joint respect and wholeness that stems from a right relationship between a husband and wife. The rights they had individually before marriage, are no longer to be claimed they belong to each other in unity. God has called us to live in peace with each other, whether single, widowed or married.

We saw at the beginning of chapter 6 how destruction caused havoc in people's lives. We all face loss, death, judgments, and voids in our lives. Some are scarred over by many years of denial, bitterness, a loss that is too painful to admit or a separation from a loved one. Some of these losses are still fresh in our minds and hearts. When we allow ourselves to look into these situations we rapidly slam the door on these feelings. Humanity is not exempt from this separation. Be this a small or catastrophic void and pain, we as humans all have to endure these griefs, lawsuits, divorces, sicknesses and deaths. We all yearn for someone or something to fill that isolation we feel when we are alone by ourselves either at work, home or on our beds at night. Your parent God is calling to you. Do you hear him. "You are not your own."

If we are not listening to God and are listening to another's voice, we will often fall into this kind of demonic struggle of thoughts and least those who live in America and one's who have western thought. We are all longing for a good life either consciously or unconsciously. We all have a determined drive or need to want more and we are never satisfied. I have come to believe only God can satisfy that longing, determined drive or need and want. And remembering God is helping with these thoughts and actions is a constant struggle of the heart and mind, because we are human. Maybe this is the struggle Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians 6.

Perhaps, Jim Wallis in his book entitled Faith Works might give us a clue to what is going on from the culture that has nurtured us in his thirteenth chapter called "Be a Contemplative." A Franciscan priest named Richard Rohr has studied and compared initiation rites for young men in very diverse cultures, both ancient and contemporary. His findings might give us something to ponder in these "lessons of life." Rohr says the following:

"1. Life is hard

2. You're going to die.

3. You're not that important.

4. You're not in control.

5. Life is not just about you."

These common themes and critical lessons are given to these young people so they can help them reach a successful maturity in adulthood. But these seem strange to our modern promiscuous and self-indulgent culture, don't they? Rohr continues to say, "if we were to compile the list of modern culture's assumptions, they might read:

1.Life can be easy.

2. You can stay young (or keep looking and feeling young) forever.

3. You are what's most important.

4. Above all else, you must stay in control.

5. Life is mostly about you and your fulfillment" (249-250).

Wow, no wonder we are confused and our young people are too! These might very well be associated with what Paul is trying to communicate to us about being associated with prostitutes. These attitudes are drawing from us our godly heritage and inheritance. Paul is reminding us to seek the kind of truth that Rohr lines out for us. Ironically, we are drawn to people who exhibit the first list, the spiritual virtues and attributes that we long for. This is what Jesus and Paul are talking about. Life is not easy: there will be trials and tribulations. We will all die but we can have eternal life through Jesus Christ. We are not that important as we are to others in our world and in the Body of Christ. We are not in control, we belong to Someone else and only God has given us dominion over our circumstances, and that Someone is God. And a Christ-like life is not just about you and your fulfillment but about your neighbors and working together in the unity of Christ's body and all of God's creation.

I believe this is why the world is searching for who they belong to. We are looking for spiritual meaning, social purpose and someone or something to satisfy our human souls and spirits. Our spiritual void is looking for the Ultimate Spiritual occupant. This Ultimate Spiritual occupant is the Trinity, Our Father God, Jesus, his son and the Holy Spirit. Paul tells us in verse 19 and 20 that our bodies are the temple of Holy Spirit.

When we hear verse 16 we are reminded of what we recognize from the marriage vow, "The two shall be one flesh." Did you know this is a scripture from Gen. 2:24 where God has just created woman from man. Adam says to the woman, "You are bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh." This mudman and his spouse were made from the same flesh and bone. So are we when we reflect on Paul's OT recollection. We are all one in Christ, that make us also one with one another in the Body of Christ. God makes us one through the Holy Spirit. We suddenly realize we do belong to God. We are flesh of his flesh because of Christ. We not only house His Spirit in our bodies but we are also His Temple.

This reference is to the temple as the sanctuary, the Holy of holies we heard about last week in our first of the sermon series about 1 Cor. Chap. 3:10-17. We learned we have become the most sacred dwelling place of God's Spirit when we join corporately as the Body of Christ to worship and do mission in our world. As members of the Body of Christ we are called to act and be Christlike to those who are looking for their Ultimate Spirit occupant.

Let's look again here in Chap. 6 Paul is reminding us that we are both the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Living God. Through this progression we see we are interrelated to one another. The Trinity, God the Father who sent His Son, Jesus who both sent the Holy Spirit to the Church to live and dwell and cohabit with us. We are find we are not alone ever again. We house the Holy Spirit in our corporate Body of Christ. We not only belong to God, we belong to one another and we belong to Christ through His Holy Spirit. We are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses!

We are individually owned by God but corporately owned also. There is a great responsibility with this knowledge. We need God's wisdom, empowerment and equipping to function and to exist as God's Temple and Body of Christ. We are to be a unified front to our neighbors in the world. Divisions within and without the church denominations have wrecked havoc in the Church Universal. God is calling His Church to be His instrument of peace, wholeness and unity. We glorify God in His Body and Temple when we act out His wonderful awesome acts of mercy, love and grace. Let us use our many varied and diversified gifts that we have been called to use to help our brothers and sisters in need. They are calling us.... Do you hear them.........Will you be there for your family, friends and neighbors in our world? Will you reach out as Christ has reached out to you this morning? Will you also extend a loving heart and ear to those who call out to you?

As we close this morning be mindful of who you belong to and whose you are. You are loved, you are valued and God loves you as a child of the King! Be encouraged! Remember His loving arms around you. Find a time this afternoon and this week to find God's arms waiting for you to curl up and rest awhile. Be surrounded in his hugs and kisses and love He so desperately wants to lavish upon you.....Yes, YOU!

Let us pray:

"My Lips will praise you, for You are holy. My voice will ever rise before your throne. My heart will love You, for You are lovely, and You have called me to become Your own. I am Your own, and I will worship you alone. I am Your own, I am Your child. I am Your own, and I will worship at Your throne. I am Your own, and I will love You. My Lips will praise you, for You are holy. My voice will ever rise before your throne. My heart will love You, for You are lovely, and You have called me to become Your own. And You have called me to become Your own."

~Twilla Paris


2nd Sunday after Pentecost, June 2nd, 2002 Virginia Presbyterian Church, IL

1 Corinthians 12:12-27

"We are the One Body of Christ"

by PLS

Let us pray:

Lord, assemble your radiantly rainbow-colored Church and our diverse gifts in a vivid display of our common baptism in Christ. And with Your Holy Spirit set us ablaze with the unity of your witness, who binds us as one. Breathe on us, breath of God and fill us with life anew, that we may love as you would love, and do what you would do.

Sing "Father we are here"

"Jesus, we are here. We feel your spirit bringing us nearer.

Your face is suddenly clearer than all the world surrounding.

Father, we are here. As You increase, Lord, we become less,

Your creation living to bless you. Oh, Father, we are here."

~Twilla Paris


Please think and visualize with me a new born baby...As a new mother or father or maybe even brother or sister we want to inspect this new child that God gave to us. We want to count the fingers and toes, look into its sweet face and marvel just how all the many intricate and delicate pieces of this precious body is put together. We check the fragile arms and cute pudgy legs, the head with its sweet little tufts of hair and the eyes when they decide to open and peek through to the bright light they are not used to yet. We look for the tiny ears and button nose and hardly any evidence of a chin. We inspect and hope that all the parts function correctly and are fitted in just right place on this wonderful gift from God. We allow the medical profession to do their duty to examine this new family member who will bear our name, too. But sometimes we are devastated and deeply disappointed when something is wrong and it seems all this precious person is not all perfectly there......

Once I heard a wise pastor and professor say at our seminary, in one of the weekly sermons we hear on campus, "Do not despise the body...." even if all the physical parts are not there or they are not functioning well. He had struggled with this statement for many years. And it was when he told us about the Greek Orthodox cross and how it was constructed he realized he just like Christ's body. You see the Greek Orthodox cross has a horizontal crossbar but the vertical piece is slanted. He suddenly came to his senses and saw Christ's body also broken and despised. He saw they were both one because he was a member of Christ's body.

His sermon normally progressed to correlate this statement, "Do not despise the Incarnational Body of Christ," regardless of what it is capable or able to do. This phrase had a profound impact on our body of believers in the chapel that day. You see this pastor had used his crutches and a scooter to get around campus that morning, like all days of his life since he was born. This precious, brilliant, compassionate man has a debilitating condition called Cerebral Palsy. He was sitting on a barstool behind the set communion table, hunched over and looking up at us with a gleam in his eyes. These glistening eyes were showing us who Christ was that morning: the one despised and broken. It was a profound portrait of Christ's love behind the elements of bread and wine.

This disabled man has pastored many churches in his years as a Minister of Word and Sacrament and he is currently our Supervised Practice of Ministry supervisor. His wise, discerning gifts as a Spiritual Director and professor have helped many of his struggling students with placements within our church system for pastoral internships and clinical pastoral education sites. This professor just finished his first year at our seminary and we all look forward to sitting under his tutelage and pastoral expertise.

I invite you to ponder these seemingly two opposite but similar visions of the Body. Paul, in 1 Cor. 12:12-27, is writing to the Corinthian church about the diversity of charismata or grace-gifts, and he talks about the Church as the Body of Christ. The apostle starts right off we are one body and we have many members and all the members of this body, though many, we are of the one body, The Body of Christ. Within this Body of Christ we are composed of many diverse members and we all have our own parts or functions to play, do, and be, but we all belong to Christ. The Body of Christ, His Church and Christ are one. We are just like the baby's body, your body, my body or my professor's body: we all have many different parts of our bodies.

Let's pause a moment and look at the passages surrounding our scripture this morning we might gain some more clues about what Paul is trying to tell us. *The first part of chapter 12 is reminding the Church about the diversity of spiritual grace-gifts that God has bestowed on His Body of believers at Pentecost. All of these spiritual gifts will proclaim that "Jesus is Lord" because they are given by the Spirit of God. If a person or spirit says, "Let Jesus be cursed," this is not a manifestation of God. God can not curse God. Furthermore, Paul describes some of the variety of the grace-gifts that God's Spirit has bestowed on Church, (like wisdom, knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, miracles, prophecy, various kinds of foreign tongues and the interpretation of foreign tongues.) This wide diversity is all given by the Spirit for the common good of the Body of Christ.

*The rest of chapter 12 after vs. 27 speaks again of some of these same gifts but adds the offices of apostles, prophets, teachers, miracle workers, ones who have the ministry of healing, ones with helping hands for assistance, ones with leadership and guidance qualities, ones who can speak with a variety of foreign tongues. Paul cautions us though: no one of us has all of these wonderful grace-gifts, we each have our own unique, particular gift as God chooses to give them, but God want us to seek after the greater gift. This greater gift is found in the next chapter, the ode of agape love is sung to and intended for the Body of Christ, but it is also crucially and vitally a portrait of Christ.

The Corinthian church has been functioning with the equipment of the spiritual grace-gifts for sometime. But there is dissension in the ranks of believers. Some think they have a greater gift than their neighbor. They seem to think they are more worthy than the next guy or gal. They have forgotten who gave the gift to each of them.

Today we are just as likely to forget who gave us the gifts to teach, sing, play an instrument, serve as deacon or as an elder, or as an administrator of the church's business, or lead the church's worship, or celebrate the sacraments. We to often forget the third person of the Trinity, the Spirit of God. This equal person in the Trinity is often neglected in the roles we have inside and outside the church walls. This is a tragic mistake. Jesus' whole purpose for leaving earth after His resurrection was to go to His Father so they could send the Holy Spirit to Jesus' followers, both in that day and to those who came after them. We are still the followers of Jesus' teachings and mysterious acts. We love to tell the stories of Jesus but do we know we are called to do even more and greater miracles than Jesus did on earth? (John 14:12) And this is a great promise of the church.

How can this be? Because we have the Holy Spirit living within us, right now as we hear this sermon. We are worshiping, praising and eating from the Lord's table today. We are gathered here in His name, the name above all names, the name before whom every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that "Jesus Christ is Lord!" We are His Body and if we are His Body we also have His Spirit and His awesome empowerment to do more than we can ask or think. Jesus has equipped His Body the Church to do His bidding, His mission, His will on earth as it is in heaven. We are the many members of the one Body of Christ. We are comprised of all denominations, brand names and religions. We are the Body of Christ sent to the world to tell our Savior's story and to demonstrate His glory.

The Spirit of God empowers us and chooses us as believers to "cultivate the gospel soil of people's lives so they can bear spiritual fruit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Gal. 5;22) (Smith.46-47). We are called to let our lives shine with the shekinna, the glory of our Holy God. The Holy Spirit dwells in each of us, if we are baptized members of His Body. Paul tells us, the church, that we, corporately are the place where the Holy Spirit dwells. We are the Temple of the Living God. If His light shines from us here (cup my face), then there is no mistaking who we have been with in this place today. His love will be evident in our display of the gifts He has given us to use for His glory.

We are the body of Christ. Paul says we have many diverse parts, functions, and abilities. So how do we connect to Christ as the one body? Romans 12:4 and 5 tells us: "For as in one body we have many members, and not all members have the same function, so we, who are many, are the one body of Christ." Maybe the Spiritual Formation Workbook I taught this semester at the church where I did my pastor internship might help us with this picture of the Body of Christ.

"When our life is a "seamless garment," we are free to reveal God to the world. Wholly available to God, we become his representative, his emissary, and he does his work through us. Our mind becomes the mind of God helping his children understand his love. Our hands become the hands of Jesus nursing the sick. Our voice becomes the voice of Christ proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. Our arms become the arms of the Holy Spirit loving the sinner unconditionally. As we let the power and life of God flow through us, we become the person he created us to be and God becomes known to the world through us" (71).

I believe this quote tell us why the diversities of grace-gifts we have are important to the Body of Christ. And that is why it is essential to accept each member as a Body of Christ. We can not do this work alone or in isolation. We all need each other. Even those in our Church we might have written off our membership roles who still live in our community. God wants you to share His unconditionally love with them each time you see them. Tell them they are missed. Don't put conditions on their returning....maybe they may just need to be loved on a while. I know some of you are probably tired of doing church duties or teaching. But God has placed a tremendous responsibility on each one of us, to be the love of Christ and to bring His mission to a broken and hurting world. The Church needs you. Each and every one of you. I need you.

You have been a great joy to me over the years I have known you. You have helped David and me raise our children, Genny and Jeremy and our grandsons, Cody and Ian. You have loved and accepted both of our daughters in marriage, Stacy and Jennifer. You have been there through thick and thin, our deepest heartache and our greatest joys. You are here this morning to celebrate another milestone not only in my life as a Candidate for Ministry to Word and Sacrament but you have ministered to me a great love and encouragement that words are hard to even tell. I love this church, this Body of have been Christ to me and my family and I will ever be grateful.

But you know what we come today to celebrate an even greater joy of love that was first shared with us 2000 years ago. And that is the feast of our Lord's Supper. We gather today as the Body of Christ as babies, squirmy children, feisty teens, families or singles, strong mature adults or as feeble, broken or disabled ones. And we also corporately gather today as the Temple of the Living God to celebrate the diversity of our many giftedness with each other and with God our creator, who sent his Son, Jesus Christ to die for our sins. And because of Jesus Christ's death and resurrection and the Holy Spirit who dwells in each of us, we can declare to world we are a forgiven people. So let us rejoice in the feast we share with each other and with Christ as our Head and Host!

Let us pray: (Sing.... "You Satisfy the Hungry Heart,"

from the Presbyterian Hymnal #521).