Being connected to a group of people is an amazing thing. This past weekend we had a bunch of family in town and had a really wonderful, meaningful, celebratory time with them. It was a beautiful visit that was very much enjoyed. The next morning I woke up to an empty house and this song popped into my head. Again, I hadn't heard it in years. I haven't thought about it in quite some time but it perfectly suits the way I'm thinking and feeling at the moment.
The first verse expressing happiness:
our hearts in Christian love;
the fellowship of kindred minds
is like to that above.
The second and third verse expressing the reality which is life in the Body of Christ (or, as the case may be, in individual families):
we pour our ardent prayers;
our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
our comforts and our cares.
We share each other's woes,
our mutual burdens bear;
and often for each other flows
the sympathizing tear.
And the third verse expressing what we will, at present, refer to as "empty house syndrome":
it gives us inward pain;
but we shall still be joined in heart,
and hope to meet again.
The Bible is very clear about how the Body of Christ is supposed to look: it is comprised of many members who feel and express themselves differently. Each member is unique with different gifts and talents to bring to the table in order to serve the others for the glory of God. Each member, no matter the age or station in life uniquely designed to be an asset to the whole. God designed this grouping in a tremendous fashion!
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
God wills and designs that we be not one member all on our own, but one of many. He wills and designs that we say we need each other to function properly. He wills and designs that we not be divided in purpose or spirit but be united for His glory. To be a part of such a Body either in the church or a family unit (who is also uniquely designed to be a part of the Body of Christ in their own right) is a tremendous thing full of heartache sometimes, yes, but also great blessing. If one of us then comes to suffer, we can take comfort knowing that we will all suffer with one another. If one of us is honored, then we all rejoice together. A powerful thing, that.
This being the design, it follows that when we have a chance to be with one another it is an exciting and joyful time. And when we have to say goodbye again, there is a bit of healthy sadness.
We shall still be joined in heart and hope to meet again.
What more joyful words than those after saying goodbye to our family yet again? What more hope for an anticipated reunion?
I was browsing Youtube trying to find a good rendition of this hymn, in case any of you had not yet heard it. Trying to find a decent version to listen to these days could be likened to trying to find a needle in a haystack. Hymns typically are not performed remarkably well, but I did like this musician's piano performance and thought I would link it:
Here is a brief explanation of how this particular hymn came to be written.
And so we are, it seems, the Body of Christ.