Tag Archives: members of the Body

The Body is Basic

1 Corinthians 6.12–20

For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.

Psalm 139.13–16


I recall having a moment of conversion as a young man. Not conversion to Christ, that happened earlier when I was fourteen. This was another moment of conversion, one of several others.

This moment of conversion came about from reading the Bible. (If you want a safe, comfortable life, don’t read the Bible!). But it was too late for me. I was already reading it.

This moment of conversion was about what the word ‘you’ means.

You might wonder what I mean. You means you means you. But it doesn’t.

Sometimes, ‘you’ means one person. Sometimes, it means more than one person. Some Aussies say ‘youse’ when they mean more than one person. We say that it’s bad English. But it’s great communication. I wish it were good English—I’d love to use youse. So I think I shall. I hope youse won’t mind.

Let’s look at our 1 Corinthians reading with this in mind.

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The Holy Spirit *is* the Spirit of Christ (Pentecost, Year A, 8 June 2014)

Numbers 11.24–30
Acts 2.1–21
1 Corinthians 12.3–13
John 7.37–39a


Today is Pentecost, which means next week is Trinity Sunday. Preachers often feel the Trinity Sunday is a hard gig, but I really feel that Pentecost is the hardest day to preach and to do justice to the message.

How do we preach the Holy Spirit, whom we picture as wind, water and fire? How do we hold wind in our hands? We know the Spirit only by the effects she has in our lives. It’s like what John says (3.8),

The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.

We only know the Spirit by what the Spirit does. We can’t pin the Spirit down. Ever. We can’t say

  • You have to believe the right doctrine to receive the Spirit;
  • A bishop must lay hands on you if you are to receive the Spirit;
  • The Spirit comes only as a second blessing to particular believers;
  • You don’t have the Spirit if you don’t speak in tongues.

We can never put the Spirit in a box or enclose her in any theological system.

With apologies to Donovan, we may as well try to catch the wind as speak of the Spirit.

One thing we do know: the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus Christ. If we speak of Jesus Christ as we speak of the Spirit, we may say words that are true. Let’s try it with a few reflections. Continue reading

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Third Sunday after Epiphany

Members of the Body

Let us pray:

God of justice,
the poor hear the good news, and rejoice;
help us to receive the grace of Christ
and leave the cages of injustice and sin,
to accept the freedom that you alone can give;
in Jesus’ name. Amen.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
Luke 4:14-21

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.’

‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

(Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll)

Words interest me a lot. One of the Christmas presents Karen gave me was a couple of books that explored the origins of certain expressions. For example, when a golfer sinks the ball one under par, it’s called a ‘birdie’. Did you know that in the 1800’s the word ‘bird’ was used rather like the way ‘cool’ is today. So a ‘birdie’ was a cool shot.

And if you’re ‘out for a duck’ in cricket you’re out for no runs. That comes from the way a duck’s egg resembles a zero.

And ‘Drongo’ was the name of a racehorse in the 1920s who was often tipped as a winner, but never managed to win a single race.

The way words change their meaning interests me, too. One of the prayers in the old 1611 Book of Common Prayer starts like this:

Prevent us, O Lord, in all our doings…

Prevent us, O Lord, in all our doings? What, does that mean prevent us from doing anything? No, it doesn’t. When this prayer was written in the 1500s, ‘prevent us’ meant ‘go before us’. So we might pray

‘Go ahead of us, Lord, in everything we do…’

And that makes so much more sense. To use ‘prevent us, O Lord’ in a prayer these days invites misunderstanding.

But did you notice a word in our reading today from 1 Corinthians that might cause some misunderstanding? It’s here, in 12.27:

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

Does anyone know which word I’m talking about?

It’s that seemingly-innocent little word ‘members’.

The dictionary says that a ‘member’ is a person belonging to a society or a team. You’re a member of a golf club or the bowls club. You’re a member of Probus or Rotary.

The dictionary also says that an ‘archaic’ meaning of the word ‘member’ is ‘any part or organ of the body’.

This older meaning is the meaning in today’s passage from 1 Corinthians. We are ‘members’ of the body of Christ. We are members in that we are organs, tissues, limbs of a body. We’re that kind of member. Continue reading

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