Because you don’t have bulletins, you probably don’t
know the title of my sermon -- the Media Center and Lodema might.
I’ll be asking for your participation in the sermon this morning,
and I want to start with the title: “It Does A Body Good.”
I didn’t come up with that phrase myself, but even after I
put it down for the title, I couldn’t quite remember where
I’d heard it. It turns out it was an advertising slogan from
the 1980s -- in case you don’t remember the 1980s, they were
back when the only way to see advertisements was to watch TV. At
least it was in color. Do any of you remember that slogan? It Does
a Body Good? Sorry if you’re out in your car or in a Sunday
School classroom. You must be inside the Worship Center to play.
It’s OK if there’s some collective amnesia about the
1980s. The slogan was Milk: It Does a Body Good. Dairy producers
were promoting milk as a way to build strong teeth and bones.
So the question I want you to ponder before I get to the end of
this sermon (you have about 9 more minutes) is: as the body of Christ,
what word do we need to hear or practice or receive that does a
body good. It does Christ’s body good. I’m going to
ask you to share your answer or answers out loud with the group.
If this were a children’s story, the safe answer would be
Jesus. But we’re already talking about the body of Christ
-- so while I could be talked into that answer, I hope you will
think beyond that. So you go ahead and formulate your answers, and
I’ll keep talking.
There’s been a lot of focus on bodies in the past few months:
our physical bodies and what they mean for our own health and for
the health of others; the terrible reality of a virus which can
leave my body feeling fine and still infect yours with something
virulent and potentially deadly. My actions -- even if they are
innocent and inadvertent, can have a negative effect on you. There
are also political bodies and national bodies which carry their
own kinds of disease -- not biological, but system: misinformation,
injustice, hatred, disrespect. Of course there is health in these
bodies too: equal representation, justice, heroism and sacrifice.
Like our physical bodies, people joined by conviction and purpose
are usually some kind of mix of healthy and not-so healthy. Physical
bodies need a balance nutrition and exercise and relaxation and
sleep in order to stay healthy. Organizations need leadership and
participation and vision and enthusiasm. How about the body of Christ?
What builds it up, gives it strength and makes it grow in healthy
Paul’s warning to the Corinthians is based in concerns about
how to handle food which was sacrificed to idols, and the effect
of that food not only on our physical bodies, but to the body of
Christ. This may seem quaint to us in the 21st Century. Few of us
(I hope!) have physical images or statues of gods or goddesses to
whom we make physical offerings. But before we are too smug about
our lack of idolatry, we need to take a long hard look at where
we have placed our allegiance -- especially if it is somewhere other
than Jesus Christ. Is our allegiance to a political party or presidential
candidate? Is it to science and medicine? Is it to our nation and
military? Our own rights as citizens? Making and keeping as much
money as we can? These are all things we may believe in and support,
but we can give only one thing top priority. What does the body
of Christ good? What is our highest calling as member of the body
of Christ? I hope you’re thinking of answers, because I’m
going to stop posing questions pretty soon.
Partaking, sharing, celebrating -- whatever verb you choose to
use -- in the body of Christ is a privilege we should never take
for granted. People have given their lives to share this service
of communion: not just dedicated their lives to the service of Christ,
but literally been willing to die rather than give it up as their
top priority. Even today, as we join in the service of communion
with Christians around the world, there are believers in places
where it is illegal to be Christian or to convert to Christianity.
Amazingly, the body of Christ may be healthier where it must stand
up to persecution than places where we have taken it for granted
and realized that it is growing weaker.
I want to hear from you: What does a body good? Specifically, what
does the body of Christ good? What is the nourishment and the exercise
and the rest which we need? I’ll repeat your answers so folks
outside of the Worship Center can hear them.
Sisters and brothers, we have been invited to the Lord’s
table this morning: we are given the opportunity to partake of the
body of Christ, and to become the body of Christ. Not because we
are worthy, but because we need one another and Christ needs us
to go out into the world to make disciples of all nations. This
bread and cup are the sign that Christ is with us always -- even
to the end of the age.