The human body is a wonderful metaphor for the Church; last summer, you might remember, we used this metaphor to point out how we are sacrificing for the good of the body like the white blood cells of our immune system. Today, I’d like to key in on 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, noticing the theme there is one body made up of many different people and one Spirit uniting us all. We are the body and we need to stay close to the heart. Hopefully, I’m not saying anything new when I tell you the heart pumps blood through the body and any piece of the body not regularly receiving blood will die. It is essential for the tissues of our bodies to receive a constant supply of O2 and nutrients provided through the blood stream. To play on Paul’s metaphor a little, if Jesus is the head or brain of the Church (Col. 1:18), then the Holy Spirit is the heart providing the sustenance for us to live.
That is why we come together for worship, this is the place where the Holy Spirit works to circulate the blood so to speak. This is the time and the place where we encounter the power and life-giving energy of the God. Notice Luke 4:14-21, Jesus is full of the power of the Holy Spirit where does he go, to worship in the synagogue. Why, because that is the natural place of the power of God, the community of faith. Why because you on your own are not strong enough to take in the Spirit of God. I love it when people say to me, “I can connect to God on my own I don’t need the Church.” I think it is hilarious, think about it, that person just said they can contain the power and life-giving presence of God on their own and in themselves. And they are going to selfishly hold on to the Spirit of Love. Does anyone see the problem with that way of thinking? Right we as individuals are less able to connect with God than we are as a collective, and God’s very essence is relational and not to be held by one individual. There is argument one for coming to worship on Sunday, being part of worship draws you more in line with God than is possible alone.
Paul’s second point of 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 you can’t live alone. American culture is full of lone wolves, we love them we celebrate them. Look at our fictional heroes the most popular of the X-Men is Wolverine a character who is only loosely connected to the team and regularly abandons the group for his own pursuits. Or in the popular Marvel Avengers franchise the cavalier Tony Stark is the true focal point and the truly team players become background. And the result, according to life coach Baya Voce 1 in 5 Americans are lonely. Loneliness, she says, is a difficult place full of suffering. Her solution is for people to gather together once a week around a shared activity where they can live together. This shared activity must become a top priority for each of the group members. The group members must be willing to express themselves to the group both joys and sorrows. Despite the monotony of coming together or the other events in life, this group must be of supreme importance for the members. Is it just me or is she literally describing what Sunday mornings should be? Look at Paul’s words in vv. 21-26 we literally need each other to have a healthy existence. If I picture myself as a finger in Christ’s body, I need at least a thumb and a palm to pivot on to grasp something (to say nothing of the arm torso and feet). Living in isolation costs each one of us a healthy life. Sidebar: this is precisely why we must think of those who have difficulty getting out because they are living lonely unhealthy lives if we do not come to their aid. This also an avenue for inviting people to worship “hey you look lonely I’ve got something that can help.” Providing people an avenue to relieve their suffering is a benefit most would love.
So, there you are, in coming to worship we prevent disorder and disfunction in our lives through averting loneliness & we connect to the source of power and Life within our world. Now how often do we need to be a part of worship? Going back to Voce she notes the necessity of being with people weekly, not allowing ourselves to get out of the rhythm of meeting for fear that it will lose its place in our lives. But let’s consider something else let’s think about how much time you really spend in worship. If you attend worship once a week every week through a calendar year you will spend approximately 3,120 minutes in worship; or 3,120 minutes in the communal attempt to connect to God. By comparison that is approximately the same amount of time you spend each year on the toilet. And when we recognize it takes 3,000-4,000 to master a skill that equates to 58 years of church attendance. Now I am not suggesting that we ever master worship nor that we could control God in such a way, rather I want to point out how little this commitment is sometimes compared with other life commitments. And yet in this hour we have more possibility opened up to us than in any other endeavor of life. We have the potential to glimpse what humans are supposed to look like, act like, and how we are to live together.
Where does this leave us? At the most basic level we recognize the sage words of Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” That is make worship a priority in your own life for the intertwined reasons of connecting to life and preventing loneliness, both in yourself and others. Do not allow yourself to be drawn away from the place you were meant to hold within God’s Church. But, for some of you, you might recognize the need for this life and community in another. If this is the case commit to showing this individual the need for coming together as children of one God, show this person how you overcome loneliness and grief through the gathering for worship. But I bet there are some of you who recognize that one hour of worship simply is not enough to combat loneliness or to connect to God properly. For you I suggest finding a way to create a deeper connection to the Church. Perhaps you can find a group of friends to meet together once a week to share your joys and burdens. As you meet you can set aside time for prayer and worship. These meetings to not have to be formal or last long, the point is that you come together as the Body of Christ so that you can reconnect to the heartbeat of Life and so that you can feel the strength of lives shared together.