Heads, shoulders, knees and toes… they all have a part to play

Yesterday we were thinking about two of my favourite passages of the Bible- the first comes from Luke’s gospel, and is where Jesus stands up and speaks about how some words of Isaiah (good news for the poor, feeding the hungry, freedom for the oppressed, light in darkness and the time of God’s favour) are about to come true today… love that passage (its Luke 4.14-21 if you want to look)… he then spends the next two years doing that, and during that time he also teaches, encourages and enables his disciples to do the same.

The second passage we looked at came from chapter 4 of Paul’s letter to the Turkish church in Ephesus- now a ruined city just inland from Kusadasi, across the water from Samos and nearby to several refugee camps. Paul was notorious for rejecting the claims of Jesus and his followers and trying to destroy the early church- today is one of those odd days in the church calendar where its not a saints day but a day when we remember Paul’s conversion- his encounter on the road with Jesus, in a way that was spiritual rather than material (no one else saw it) but real rather than conceptual (it totally changed the rest of his life)- the road to Damascus experience that any others are referring to.

We used this prayer to help us think about how we are each able to be part of the things that Jesus was talking about:

Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours, yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion is to look out to the earth, yours are the feet by which He is to go about doing good and yours are the hands by which He is to bless us now.                                                             (St Teresa of Avila)

When God calls us he expects us to respond by more than simply worship or prayer… we show our love by our action, but not busyness…

Paul expected the same, but also that each person would find their own place- the Body of Christ from Romans, the different ministries in Ephesians… but the list at the start of Ephesians 4 is a general calling- to be humble and gentle, to be patient, to work to keep unity… for there is one hope- that which brings healing, light, freedom etc… some basic things for all people who follow Jesus, who’re Christians…

And then in verses 11-12 the ministries Paul lists weren’t exclusively for the church in Ephesus or the early church, nor are they exclusively for us- in every place, at every time… all are essential to the life of the church… we’re not all called to be professionals, to have the ‘vocational calling’ to them, but all can, as grace has been given to us, be one or more of these in the places where we are… Know what we are (we were thinking about how feet aren’t much good for carrying things etc) and play our part, each of us…

these five ministries can be expanded upon massively, but just to give a pointer:

Apostles- those who are sent to new places, whether those be across the Roman Empire or up to the allotment…

Prophets- those who see with the eyes of God, and call us to come closer to God… they challenge the world and the church to live up to the ideals, the manifesto of the kingdom which Jesus proclaimed.

Evangelists- those who want to see people come to a saving knowledge of God’s love, which may seem obvious to some but is scary stuff to others- its ok to recognise that some of us are called and gifted in that

Pastors- those who care for the sick, the lonely, the orphans, widows, the poor and the homeless…

Teachers- those who encourage and educate those who are new to faith…

If you look at the order of them, we need them in that order- to go to a place where the Gospel is needed, to highlight the gap between life as it is seen and as it might be under God, to provide opportunity for a response to that- for people to come to God, to care for people’s needs as they do that and then to teach them how to live as followers of Christ themselves… when we find ourselves stuck and aren’t preparing, or being prepared for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up, we need to go back up the list- what aren’t we doing… where is the blockage… until we’re able once again to- be good news to the poor, bring light to the dark places, heal the sick, free the oppressed and proclaim God’s love for the world.

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