I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:1-6
Since 2018, Big Wind, a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe, has lived at a protest camp [for the Line 3 oil pipeline] in northern Minnesota called Namewag. … As a child, Big Wind says, they learned to chop wood in thirds. … They keep one-third of the wood to use at home, share another third with everyone in the community, and designate the remaining third for a communal structure.
“You’ve cut all this wood, and you take a third for yourself, you leave a third there, stacked, and then you take a third to, like the kitchen,” Big Wind says, “It’s not about personal benefit; it doesn’t need to be about that. How are you providing for a community that takes care of you? There’s that relationship of reciprocity there.” Excerpted from “On the Line” by Nicole Pollack; Sierra Magazine Summer, 2021; p. 19f
What does it mean to be a member of the body of Christ – a member of a community of faith – a member of a family – a member of a neighborhood? How do we provide for a community that takes care of us? How do we recognize the ways our community takes care of us?
Individuality is so important to many of us. We want to be distinctive. We are independent. We are self-sufficient. There are many examples in our culture these days where the idea of caring for or depending upon others seems to be unwelcome, for each of us in different ways. Our Christian heritage teaches us that interdependence is God’s way of living. We depend upon one another. The aspects which make us individuals enrich the community. Different languages, different nations, different ethnicities, different perspectives, different understandings of faith, different orientations in sexuality, different cultures, different ways of living, different abilities – each difference contributes to the oneness in God’s creation. We are instructed by Paul to bear with one another in love. We are different strands woven together into one creation of God.
In community, we are called to recognize that we need one another. It is the body which supports the different parts of the body. No part of the body can live on its own. Together, the members of the body allow it to live and love and care. So too, for the body of Christ. It is the individual strands woven together which form the full basket and the full basket which holds the individual strands and allows the basket to be useful as it holds and carries. So too, for our faith community. It is the three wood piles which provide for the individual as well as the community. There is a reciprocity of relationships in the ways God has created us to live in this world.
Can we live together as one? Can we make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace? Can we lead a life worthy of the calling to which we have been called? Can we recognize the ways our communities care for us, even as we recognize how we are called to care for one another?
Holy and loving God, guide us to live in ways that support and hold one another in your grace and love. We pray in the name and Spirit of Christ. Amen.