Esprit de corps
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? 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.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 1 Cor. 12:12-26
I so love our communion liturgy. It is the honor of every pastor to preside and pray, ”Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here and on these gifts of bread and wine, make them be for us the body and blood of Christ that we may be for the world the body of Christ redeemed by his blood. By your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other and one in ministry to all the world…”
This invocation envisions the esprit de corps or “spirit of the body.” Most often this term is used to talk about teamwork, sport teams and especially the military. Esprit de corps means wholeheartedly working toward a common goal – for us transforming the world through the making of disciples of Jesus, for example. It is clear to me that this term originally and most specifically applies to the church. These days it sometimes seems as though our Christian body has an autoimmune disorder – it is attacking itself, destroying its own healthy parts. It is though we are saying “Foot I have no need of you!” I ask and pray, what is it that we need to do to live into the Great Thanksgiving so that we are not made lame by cutting off our own limbs? This passage is a call into relationship with those who are different than we are, yet still part of the precious body. My urgent, fervent prayer is that we stay in contact and relationship, not just with those most like us but with those who are most different, with those who challenge us the most to live the Gospel. There should be no division in the body, lest we all suffer. We need to be strong, for love of God and neighbor are under siege!
O Lord, by your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other and one in ministry to all the world. Amen.