But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. /1 Cor. 12:18
I was planning to write this long reflective piece about how it’s been one year since we closed our church plant, Dwell, and how, almost a year to the day after preaching my last sermon at Dwell, I preached a sermon at First United Methodist Church in Burlington and it was kind of heavy and emotional and awesome.
And how, on that same Sunday, the pastor’s wife came up to me after the sermon with a prophetic word (because, you know, my sermon was all about prophets).
And how she said, “Thus says the Lord: It’s time.“
While I’m still processing that Sunday and that word, time is exactly what has escaped me for writing the super long amazing reflective piece that I was planning to write, and so, this is what you get. That one verse. That prophetic word. And these few paragraphs.
In Paul’s classic illustration of the church as the many-membered, gifted body of Christ in the world, he explains that each part (person) is placed in the body just as God wants them to be. The old King James says, “as it pleaseth him.” When this verse was taught to me as a kid, it was always taught in the context of your unique gifting and calling guiding you to a unique and particular fit within the universal church – a time, a place, a role, a community, a mission. In other words, God is not content to simply have you be a “Christian” floating around in the ether of the “church universal.” No, God has placed you. If you do not know where God has placed you yet, you soon will. Because your unique gifting and calling must guide you to your unique place, your particular fit.
This past year has been a year without a place. More than that, it has been a year after what we thought was our place was ripped from us, like a body from a limb. It has been a listless year. A year adrift. And yet, the odd thing in the midst of such listlessness is the love that we have found here. And the way in which that love – for each other as a family, for our home and city, for the God who is somehow still with us in the midst of the pain – has itself become a place. As I told a friend tonight, the incarnational life is somehow clearer than ever when seen through the lens of ministry death. Heartache and betrayal have a way of undoing how you once interpreted your own calling and placed yourself in the body. When you “suffer the loss of all things and consider it all shit,” God may finally place you in the body as it pleases him.
And you may finally press on to a much higher call.
So, I guess, press on.