Originally scheduled for May 1
Like many other Christians who participate in ministries
which are external to their own local church, I get occasional
copies of a prayer list. This particular ministry is one which deals
with prisons and prisoners throughout America, but the requests from
them seem rather ordinary. They seldom have to do with the prison
ministry itself, but have everything to do with the human beings in
that ministry. In a way that’s a very comforting thought. Why?
It reminds us that the church is universal — we have Christians all
over the world. They go in prayer to the same God that we do.
It reminds us that suffering is not something that is confined to
those who are super Christians. That prayer list holds out the same
illnesses, medical conditions, family conditions and death that you
would see in any local church.
It reminds us that the church is one body, with its members having
many gifts. Prison ministry is not something that is easy, nor is it
“for everybody.” For example, children are usually not allowed. We
have differing gifts and differing responsibilities.
The source of this unity, this “one-ness” comes from Jesus
himself. He is the head of the church, and he is the glue that holds
her together. When you look at the church as a collection of
different people, you see many different people. When you look at
the church as one faith, you see one faith. This is taken from the
example given to us in the Trinity; God is three, but yet one.
This is symbolized to us in communion. On any given Sunday
communion is being celebrated in churches around the world. There
are many many different places, but there is one body. Just like
there is one bread which is used to symbolize Christ’s body, broken
for us. Many pieces; one body. Similarly, the cup that we partake
comes from one source; or as a Scripture would say, one blood. The
wine in my cup is the same as the wine in yours, portraying to us
the one blood of Jesus Christ given for our salvation.
It is therefore no accident or point of trivia that we are
taught to examine ourselves before communion. At the very least we
should look at ourselves and ask whether or not we are indeed part
of that one body, partaking that one blood. Communion should bind us
together, not split us apart. As you partake this morning, ask
yourself this: am I one with the body of Christ, or am I leading yet
another fragment out the door?