We welcome our new Pastor, Ted Brelsford and his wife Leslie. Further below you will find a welcome letter prepared by Ted as in introduction for the church members and community. We are so pleased to have Ted and Leslie with us.
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. 13For 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. – I Corinthians 12:12-13.
The Apostle Paul uses the metaphor of the body to talk about how all members of the church and all of us who are followers of Christ each play an important but separate and distinct role as members of the one 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” (I Corinthians 12:17-18). In other words, we are each called to be the person we are and serve the whole body in the form and from the place or perspective God has given us. Thank God we are not all alike.
Sometimes we forget how important and legitimate it is that we are all different and can have very different perspectives. The hand would be severely handicapped if it were strapped tight into a leather binding with a thick rubber surface sewn on the palm side of the enclosure. The foot, however, is very appreciative of this protection when walking down a gravel path. Likewise, the ears may appreciate a warm covering in the winter, but the eyes would be blinded by such a thing.
It was only recently, a few years ago, that I truly learned it is possible to state an opinion or perspective without having to defend it or apologize for it or argue about it. This was a fresh new insight for me, and it has been a refreshing relief to practice it at times when I otherwise might have kept my different opinion to myself, or tried to argue the validity of my opinion, or apologized for having it. In other words, I will sometimes now say, “I just want you to know I see it differently. I don’t want to argue about it right now, and I’m not saying you are wrong. I just want you to know my perspective is different on this.” There are times differing opinions should be discussed and some agreement or comprise reached. There are even times when one should defend their perspective even if the other person persistently rejects it. But there are also times when differences just need to be noted and no resolution is necessary. I have been pleasantly surprised how often this is the case.
Frequently when our differences emerge all that is required is for us to remind the others who we are. It is like a foot saying to a hand, “hey there, I am a foot down here—I just need you to notice that the gravel affects me differently.” Or perhaps the ear saying to the eye, “Ok, I hear what you say you are seeing, but what I am hearing seems something different to me.” At its best the body processes and coordinates the input from all its various parts in order to function optimally in relation to whatever is going on around it, as well as within it. Individually the parts of the body do not need to know everything or process everything or do everything. They simply need to do their part and faithfully send their signals and reports to other parts of the body. The processing and coordinating are done in the mind of the body.
Perhaps we might think of the Holy Spirit—the presence of God—as the mind of the Body of Christ. None of us who are members of this body need to take responsibility for the whole body, nor do we need to argue with other parts of the body with different experiences and perspectives. We just need to do our part, and faithfully report our feelings and perspectives and experiences, and work together and make our contributions according to how we have been made and where we are located, and the strengths and abilities given to us.
Of course, the body will not always function optimally. In fact, it rarely does. We experience disease. There are minor or major injuries. Exhaustion sets in. Hunger. Dehydration. Whatever affliction is experienced in the body, no matter which part or parts sustains the affliction most directly, the whole body is impacted. And it is the whole body that must heal. It is especially at these times that compassion—a kind of selfcare—is called for in all parts of the body. If the foot needs some extra protection and cushioning, this is no time for the hand to tell the foot it should not be so sensitive. Or if the hand needs to be in a brace for a while, the foot must not brush this off saying, I wear stuff like that all the time. As Paul puts it, “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it” (I Corinthians 12:26).
Paul’s final point in this section of his letter to the Corinthians is that those who follow Christ are called to live together in love and compassion, each fulfilling their particular role, and each contributing according to their particular gifts. This is much easier said than done. But it is a worthy goal and an honorable calling—for all of us now, as it was for the Corinthian Christians then.