Epiphany 3C’22
23 January 2022
I Cor. 12.12-31a
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
North Little Rock, Arkansas
The Rev. Carey Stone 

O God, you have formed us in your own image, and have made us members of your Body: Guide us, Grace us, Go with us, into this New Year, being and bringing good news to those all around us who are in need, that we might share the Gifts you have given to us, and even with our own souls. Amen. — The Rev. Carey Stone <+>

I don’t know about you but as a result of the pandemic there are some things I’m missing. I’m missing a McDonald’s Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Bagel! It was the perfect breakfast for Gentiles ‘on the go!’ but now it’s gone off their menu. The answer as to ‘why’ – two words that I have to confess, had never come out of my mouth prior to the pandemic – the “Supply Chain!”

There is a lot packed into those two words. Like never before we have witnessed how interdependent we all are on each other, and not just for extraordinary things, but for our very survival. From farm to table, the supply chain includes millions of people, with thousands of great and small tasks and moving parts. Is this something we didn’t know before COVID? We knew it, but as only a mental fact, now we are experiencing the truth of it. It’s scary to go into a grocery store and see empty shelves reminiscent of the Soviet Union back in the 1970s. It’s scary to see every restaurant in town with “we’re hiring” signs out front.

COVID has set off a domino effect that has touched almost every aspect of our lives. A week or so ago the Veteran’s Administration here in North Little Rock had 400 employees that were off work due to either having the virus or for being exposed to it through someone in the family. There’s no way around it, no matter what our gender, race, or creed is, we are all interdependent upon each other.

In a similar fashion, our community of faith the Church is same. St. Paul uses the metaphor of the human body to describe the interdependence between individual members of the body of Christ. Just like a human body, the individual parts of Christ’s body have specialized functions that only they can perform. As usual The Message translation of the Bible cuts through the fog an gets to the point:

“The way God designed our bodies is a model of understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing.”

Some of you may remember my best illustration of the importance of each part of the body happened to me while on my honeymoon. I was on a beach in a lounge chair and decided to go and get something to drink. As I jumped exuberantly to my feet, my left foot caught the rail on the chair next to mine. There is no sound quite like it (Crrkkkk). In an instant my little toe was broken and I was in intense pain. Prior to breaking it, I rarely ever thought about my littlest toe, but boy is it important! I tried to just ignore it and walk with the other remaining toes – but I discovered that they were all connected and required in order to maintain good balance. I didn’t know what a gift the little toe was until it was fractured.

Some of us have come to realize over the last couple of years just what a blessing being able to gather as a body of believers was, and how we took it for granted. For those of us, who for various and legitimate reasons have not been able to return to church yet – I want to say to you how much we miss you! It may sound corny, but it’s true – we just aren’t the same without you. I would also like to say that we miss your gifts. Some of us have tried to pull together and make do, but to use the body metaphor again, ‘it’s not been much fun trying to walk on your hands or see with your ears!’

I would encourage all of us to take another look at what our gifts are. What is it you miss most about participating in church? What gifts do you have that due to COVID have been placed on the shelf and have been collecting dust?

Maybe you are like one person who recently told me, “Fr. Carey I know what my gifts are, I’m just too tired to use them!” Perhaps that’s how many are feeling right now. If that is where you are at, let me encourage you to take this opportunity while the cases of infection are high to rest. But while resting also be praying about how you might be able to serve God in God’s church and as a member of Christ’s body. We all know what happens when we stop using a part of our body, it atrophies and loses its ability to function. This can happen to our gifts as well.

Again, from The Message bible:

“You are Christ’s body – that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything.”

In the meantime, know that you are missed, know that you are wanted, know that you are needed, and yes, know that you are loved! We need help with children and youth ministries, formation ministries, caring for our buildings and grounds, office volunteers. We need help with our website, social media, and computer graphics.

As the pandemic slowly inches towards an endemic, remember that there are things you can do, suggestions you can offer, that you are an expert at something that could make all the difference at St. Luke’s in this New Year. Let it be! Amen.