“’To Live Among God’s Faithful People’: ‘Re-Membering’ the Body of Christ”
Texts: Acts 2:42-47; Romans 12:1-13; John 13:34-35
In this season of Lent, we are reviewing and remembering the promises given to us by God in baptism. Tonight we take a look at the first promise – “To Live Among God’s Faithful People.”
Nephrologists. Renal Failure. Fistulas. Dialysis. Ureaic Toxicity. Live Donors. Transplants. Re-profusion…Blood flow. Recovery.
In the past couple of months, I have been learning a bit of new medical terminology and a lot about unconditional love. On Friday the 13th this February, our oldest son donated one of his kidneys to my youngest brother whose kidneys had been in renal failure and therefore on dialysis for about one year.
As our family gathered in the waiting room, we could feel ourselves being held in God’s love through many prayers, cards, phone calls and text messages sent by you and countless others. It was a “good” Friday for all of us.
It wasn’t a very long procedure to remove Than’s donated kidney, make the necessary surgical repairs on him and then send him to the recovery room. In fact, even though the transplant coordinator nurse kept us well informed of the process and progress of both our patients, we were amazed at how quickly we were able to see Than in his room. His surgeon spoke with us and told us how pleased she was with how he had handled the surgery and how healthy his kidney was. When we told Than what she had said and then told him, “You did a good job, Bud,” my son responded, “All I did was lay there!”
Relief flooded over us – but we knew there was some more work being done on my brother and the waiting continued. About 1 & 1/2 – 2 hours later, our “angel” nurse returned and told us, “The kidney has been ‘re-profused’ and there is excellent blood flow in and out of the kidney. Now, we are waiting for it to produce [the necessary by-product that kidneys make].” They would continue to closely monitor my brother for awhile, do an ultra-sound to make sure things were in their proper places before they would send him on into recovery.
It truly was an unselfish gift of unconditional love given by our son. It was astounding to hear that blood was flowing through the newly transplanted kidney in my brother. What has become somewhat “routine” for those Mayo transplant surgeons is still, nonetheless, amazing when we think about the wondrous way in which the human body functions. The bodies that God has created.
It is no wonder, that Apostle Paul used the metaphor of the body to describe the faith community as the Body of Christ. Each part of the body is needed to make the whole body function properly. Each person has gifts to share that strengthen the whole community to be the Body of Christ in the world.
Our son willingly offered his kidney – with no strings attached. Literally, with no strings attached! In fact, the moment that kidney was removed from his body, it no longer “belonged” to him. The surgical staff along with our son, referred to it as “Todd’s kidney.”
Gifts of unconditional love – given without strings attached. That is what Jesus did for us and for all of creation on that Good Friday, too. Giving his life blood so that we may have the gift of new life.
+ “I hope your brother understands what an amazing gift of new life he has received…” is a comment we have heard repeatedly. That statement got me to thinking about faith communities – and this church in particular. We have been “re-profused”. We have received new hearts and minds as it were, through the body and blood of Jesus flowing in and through us at his table, washed clean in the waters of baptism, receiving the gift…His unconditional, “no-strings attached” love enfolding us, waiting and strengthening the Body of Christ here to produce the gifts of the Holy Spirit for the sake of the world.
+ I hope we understand what an incredible gift of new life we have received in Jesus!
As baptized children of God, sealed by the Holy Spirit, and marked with the cross of Christ forever, we are called to live into and live out of our baptismal promise – “to live among God’s faithful people.”
Yes, there are times when this family of faith waits in anxiousness. There are also times of toxicity built up in the Body’s bloodstream when the love of Christ is blocked and not flowing through us as it should. But, when we gather here together, living among God’s faithful people, offering thanks and praise to God for creating this Body and the unconditional love given to us – it is like getting a regular check-up from the greatest of heart surgeons or kidneys, or whatever body part is in need of healing. “On-going” check-ups like regular worship and prayer times are of great importance to keeping this Body healthy. My family has felt the love from you here and I hope you have felt that same love in your life, too.
In this season of Lent, we remember Jesus’ journey to the cross and the night in which he was betrayed. As He broke bread with his disciples, as we break bread with him tonight, we hear his words, “As often as you do this,” Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”
As we remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us, we, as the faith community – in all of our pain and brokenness, all of our joys and sorrows, we, are “Re-Membered”, re-profused – and the healthy flow of love is restored. We are re-purposed, re-cycled and then sent out to share the story of this awesome, overwhelming love! We offer our willing hearts – and the Great Surgeon goes to work – transforming us to embody Christ in our midst and in the world.
In John’s Gospel chapter 13, we read where Jesus said,
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Jesus’ disciples are known by their love.
Living among God’s faithful people, we are re-profused…experiencing new life as God’s love courses in us and through us…and the world awaits anxiously as it needs us to produce God’s love:
Remembering Jesus and Re-membered as the Body of Christ.
Thanks be to God. Amen.
– Brenda Tibbetts, AiM