Video of this sermon is available at our church’s Youtube channel.
These days we cannot escape the fact that all of humanity is so deeply connected. Our wellness, our health is shared across the globe. My wellness and the wellness of my family and of my church family and of my friends here and across the nation and the globe, all depends on the wellness of all of our neighbors, their wisdom in practicing good hygiene and safe distancing, the wellness of all our neighbors depends on the wellness of their neighbors’ neighbors, and their neighbors’ neighbors’ neighbors’ and so forth webbing out across the globe.
“All [people] are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality,” as Dr. King wrote in his letter “tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.”
This certainly is very clear these days.
This virus is causing us to become aware of all the touch-points of interconnection between all people. And because of the world-wide-web, we have an even more heightened awareness of our interconnection, we can share and hear stories and information, and images, and medical insights and directives, across the globe.
All of humanity is like an enormous body that’s going through a collective immune response as we try to defend ourselves against this global threat. Our front-line medical workers are like our white blood cells, God bless them, fully mobilized. And in our following the intelligence and wisdom of isolating ourselves physically and reducing our touch points to prevent the spread of the virus, we are each acting like cells in a collective body going into an immune response.
And as when our individual bodies get feverish when we fight off a virus, our collective body, global humanity, is under an enormous amount of stress right now. I think we all are feeling this in one way or another, if we’re at all paying attention. That may be making us touchy and reactive, or fearful, or in denial, or obsessively anxious.
So I want to just name and be real about the unease we’re all going through. We can choose to respond to that in a helpful way. One thing that I think is especially important to name and to honor is the grief of all this, the enormous grief that comes because of the tremendous and escalating loss of life, you know, and the pain of folks who are bereaved but not able to gather to grieve together and to pray and to bury their dearly departed.
This collective grief is a gateway to the meaning of Christ in our midst. This has everything to do with Jesus.
Our care and concern for the collective body of humanity, our awareness and care of all the social tissues that connect us as one body with all of humanity, is actually us participating in the Christhood which Jesus embodied and ushered into the world.
The Body of Christ itself is a global Body.
This whole journey we’re in the middle of in the sacred calendar of the Church, the journey from Ash Wednesday – when we are marked with a sign of our mortality – through the purifying wilderness of Lent toward Holy Week and through the Crucifixion into the Easter Resurrection and beyond to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit after the Resurrection into the collective community of Jesus followers … this is a journey that reveals how God’s incarnation through Christ, is a healing and redeeming embrace of all of humanity in the flesh.
The Body of Christ, crucified and risen, is a global body.
“Christ is all things and all in Christ” as we hear in Colossians Christ is an all-embracing transcendent presence that extends beyond all borders and divisions. Through Christ, God takes on all human suffering, and through Christ, God moves through all the joys and the struggles of human care and solidarity and healing.
So, whenever we feel overwhelmed with concern, care, and grief, know it is not ours to bear alone – not only are we in this together, but we are in this with Christ, who has shown us the power of life beyond the forces of death.
So, may we rally for the sake of life, and rally in the way that Jesus calls us to: In a way that lifts up the least of these, in a way that champions the most vulnerable, whether it’s because of infirmity or poverty.
It is only as one that we will rise.
For all these reasons, may we let the “peace of Christ settle in our hearts, to which indeed we are called in one body.”
(Delivered March 29, 2020, by Rev. Nathaniel Mahlberg)
Colossians 3:10-15 Put on the new self, being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. Here, there is not Greek nor Jew, circumcision and un-circumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, slave, free: but Christ is all things and all in Christ. As the chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on compassion, goodness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing up one another and, if there are complaints, forgiving each other. Above all, add to these things love, which is a bond of maturity. Let the peace of Christ settle in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body, and be thankful.