18 January 2016

Dear fellow members of the body of Christ,

I spent Boxing Day until New Year at a camp for high school aged kids, with a crèche and kids programme for the children of those who are there leading in various capacities. One afternoon I was taking a four year old girl back to the crèche group, and as we walked she said to me dramatically ‘SOMEONE is MISSING from the crèche… (insert pause for dramatic effect)…and it’s ME!’

The challenge of the week was to put the truths of God’s word into action in our lives – a practical theology for teenagers. This little girl had unintentionally highlighted an important aspect of our theology of church – it matters whether we are there or not. When we gather as a church week by week, we are meeting together as Christ’s body. If we are not there, then an important part of church, the body, is missing.

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul puts it like this:

‘Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? And if the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.’

These are words that are familiar to most of us, but I wonder how seriously we take them. Do we really think that if we don’t turn up for church, a part of the body will be missing? (And missed?) Are we all willing to use the gifts God has given us for the good of his people? Do we all even think that we have something to contribute, that God has given us? Do we really recognise that what each person contributes is valuable?

The beginning of a new year is always a good opportunity to reflect, and to plan for the year ahead. How can you use your gifts for the good of the church? Do you need to commit to being at church and Bible Study more regularly? Is there someone you can help get to church or Bible Study because it is difficult for them? Is there a new way you can serve at church? Wash up? Help with kids? Compile prayer points or lead the prayers? Help with English for Life? Welcome people? Look out for newcomers?

(And as it happens, this week my family and I aren’t at church with you. But we’ll be with the body of Christ in Ulladulla, where I’m sure they would miss us if we didn’t turn up to church every January.)

Stacey Chapman

(Warden, 5pm congregation)