Day 27: Friday in the Fourth Week of Lent
The members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.
My internship supervisor asked the question of his congregation “Who is the most important person in the congregation?” He named some names of key leaders and crucial volunteers without whom the congregation would not have had the valuable ministry it did. He also named himself and other staff members. I admit that, were he to ask me this question now, at this point in my ministry, my first thought would be our secretary/facility manager; without her we would certainly be in deep trouble. But after listing all the various possibilities, Ed named a man some 25 miles away in a nursing home in Seattle. I don’t remember, now, the disease that had crippled him in mid-life. I just remember Ed saying that the health of the congregation is measured by the way it treats its most vulnerable member. He couldn’t have explained Paul’s words any more clearly.
We are easily distracted by gifts that are visible and public. It is important to recognize the value of those gifts that work diligently behind the scenes. Where would we have been without Martha who prayed so diligently for all in the parish? Where would we have been without Gubby who, every time you turned around, had his hands in the sink doing dishes for whatever activity was at church? Where would we have been without Oscar Kloeppel, who told me at every visit about the business he once had, OK Cartage, and who wandered the church building every morning watching over everything? Where would we have been without those who, without being asked, took soup to the sick and meals to the grieving? These are all precious and critical gifts for a congregation.
But Ed understood something more than the value of those hidden gifts and ministries. He understood that the work of the congregation was to be the body of Christ. And the presence of Christ will only be seen if we have love for one another, if we honor others, serve others, care for others, defend, encourage and challenge one another. The health of the body will be seen in the way it cares for its weakest member – even as Christ has cared for us.
in the waters of baptism you made us members of your body.
Renew in us this day the bonds of affection
that we may love one another as you have loved us.
– A prayer for the fourth week of Lent