Epiphany 3C ~ Hope Lutheran Church ~ Riverside, CA ~ January 27, 2019
The body tells the story. (ask for examples from those present)
As you hear, each scar has a story. It is a part of the body that we can see and tells our history and often, can indicate where we are going as well. There are other stories the body tells us, from a lack or abundance of smile wrinkles, hair that grows back a different color after Chemo or turns overnight after a trauma, the slow movement during cold weather of an arthritic joint after a fracture years before, and visible signs of conditions we cannot see with the eye- like the butterfly patch of someone with Lupus.
Modern science and medicine teach us that past trauma can also be stored in the body, through the skin and muscles, creating trigger points that are tender. There is growing evidence of the connection between ancient traditions that understood the connection between experiences of life and problems in the body- such as women who have been sexually assaulted having unexplained pelvic problems- connecting the story of fear and sexuality in the most sensible place of the body to put it.
The body tells a story and when we do not pay attention we suffer as a person. Have you ever felt an itch in your shoe, only to realize after it is too late that it was a new blister forming? What about the scab that didn’t heal and turned out to be skin cancer? The ache in the tooth that could have been crowned but you waited too long and it had to be a root canal? The twinges in your back that eventually led to days on end in bed?
Our body is telling a story. And when we don’t listen, when we don’t care for a part of the body as it begins to speak to us, it will eventually be screaming in agony.
So, here is Paul speaking to Corinth about being one body. As one body, Paul means that we are one system of mutual support and union with all parts. If an infection happens in the toe, the whole body responds and if it is ignored by another part, such as our mind intentionally ignoring it, eventually the whole body suffers and the infection spreads. Paul is speaking to a group of folks who just don’t seem to get it- so he is repeating himself in many ways to get the point across- he is telling them that they are unique and maybe even quite different from each other, but that they need to remember they are unified in Christ.
Recently I was asked if women of faith should march in the women’s march. I understood what they meant- there is a huge chasm between the topics of prolife and prochoice that has risen up in past years at the march. Some assume marching means a woman is one or the other. I was able to explain that while this is a difference of perspective of the sanctity of life, in the end, the march is not about this topic at all, but about the commonality of women, who all face the struggles of their gender in the world together. How they each face their personal struggle is not the point, rather the point of the march is to face it together, not alone. But there are always people who like to divide. Corinth was doing a bang up job of that, differentiating between the haves and have nots, the jews and gentiles, the men and women. Paul is reprimanding them because their differences are important and necessary, all part of being one unified body in Christ.
So what does all this mean for us? It means we need to be listening to our body- here at Hope, here in Riverside, here in North America, here on this earth. Our body is telling us a story and parts of it are crying out. Parts of us are past warning itches and little aches. We are suffering raging infections that are systemically spread through every inch of the Lutheran Church, the Protestant understanding, and the Christian proclamation. We have members crying out to be seen, to be welcomed, to be heard, to be understood, to be loved.
If the Body remembers, and is crying out, our response needs to be to hear the cry, to care for the need, to heal the wound. Just because the big toe doesn’t feel the broken thumb, doesn’t mean the pain and trauma of the thumb are not real or excruciating. Just so, even if we as an individual do not feel the effects of racism, sexism, ageism or more, doesn’t meant they are not real and painful- as well as damaging to our existence as a whole and healthy body.
In the gospel today, Christ declares “today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” But the translation doesn’t do justice, because “fulfilled” is not a past tense verb. The closer translation is that it has been, is being and will continue being fulfilled in our hearing. The poor shall hear good news, the slaves set free, the blind see, and the broken made whole. This is important because if it happened then, it is also happening in our presence right now, and we are part of it. We have a lot to do. There is a lot of pain. There is a lot of need. Let’s listen. The body remembers. It is telling us a story. Our story. Christ’s story. A loss and lament story, a salvation and redemption story, a hope and healing story. So let’s begin.