Devotional for January 27, 2013 – Dreams and Visions: An Inclusive Church

 

Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor

Bible/Theme Background

Our bodies know so much about who we are before we know it.  Bodies know when we yearn for touch or contact.  Bodies know when we hunger, when we need sleep or just before we wake up.  Bodies know warmth and cold.  Bodies doze.  Bodies move or they ache. They tell us when we are sick or when we are well.  They slow down and speed up even before we know exactly why.  And one part of the body hurts, the entire rest of the body knows it.  When all is in working order, we continue on in our lives, without a care in the world.  When we cannot see, our body readjusts.  When we cannot move, our body cries out.  Each part of our body is connected in infinite and intimate ways.

Before Paul came along to write about how we are connected, the metaphor of the body was used to oppress.  We could have been told that because we are certain types of people we were feet and were left in the muck.  But then Paul comes along and points out that actually the body is so connected that we need each part equally.  We each have our gifts.  And if one part of the body is not doing well, we are all not doing well. If one part of the body is excluded, we cannot function as a whole.  If one part is marginalized, then we cannot move forward.

Paul had a dream and a vision that the church would include all parts of the body.  We at McMinnville Cooperative Ministries have the same dream.  We dream of a place where everyone is welcome and can join us at the table with bread and wine.  For us, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from.  It doesn’t matter what your status, gender, age, sexuality, political preference, or even favorite color is.  What does matter is that you are willing to work with the other parts of the body in order to follow the word that is proclaimed.  Our mission is to restore all of creation to God’s loving embrace, whichever part of the body you feel you are.

Jesus stands up and claims that the word of God has anointed us to free the oppressed, bring good news to the poor, and recover sight to the blind.  Jesus didn’t then look around the room, point to someone and say, “except for you.” That wasn’t part of the deal.  He just asked for people to follow him in our journey, all diversities accepted.

Today at the CoOp we celebrate that dream of inclusivity especially as we celebrate our commitment to being a reconciling in Christ church.  We accept all people, what a celebration of our beautiful body!

Quotes for the Week

“We must measure our goodness, not by what we don’t do, what we deny ourselves, what we resist, or who we exclude. Instead we should measure ourselves by what we embrace, what we create and who we include.” ― Pere Henri

“Differences are not intended to separate, to alienate. We are different precisely in order to realize our need of one another.” ― Desmond Tutu

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” ― Maya Angelou

“Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without.” ―William Sloane Coffin Jr.

“How much longer as we preach, teach and practice this understanding of inclusiveness, will we continue to say to some people; ‘But, we didn’t mean you’?” – Rev. Gil Caldwell

1 Corinthians 12:12-31 (NRSV)

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.For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would 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. And if the ear would 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. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 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.” On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Luke 4:14-21 (NRSV)

Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’

Questions for the Week

What does a church that includes all look like?

 

What steps do we need to take to get there?

 

Who are we missing?

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About pastorcourt

Courtney McHill is the pastor at Rose City Park United Methodist Church in Northeast Portland where they love compassionately and inclusively!
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