The Standard August 6, 2020
As most churches have begun their phased re-openings according to the governor’s guidelines it has become clear, if we ever had any doubt, how crucial it is for Christians to gather for worship and fellowship. During the COVID-19 pandemic various pastors have learned how important an online presence is for worship services but that there is no long-term substitute for us being together physically. Hopefully, we have reached new levels of appreciation for the togetherness we might have taken for granted previously.
I distinctly remember one Sunday morning years ago when our congregation was taking communion by intinction and how the deeply special nature of the church family hit me. People were coming forward down the center aisle to tear off a piece of the bread and dip it in the cup while Alyssa Howell was singing the amazing “How Beautiful” by Twila Paris. It is the perfect communion song melding the two aspects of the body of Christ, both the Lord’s physical body given for us as well as the present-day body of Christ or the church. It starts with several verses about what Christ did for us in human form on this earth, past tense, and ends with what the church currently does in fulfilling God’s call, present tense.
“How beautiful the hands that served the wine and the bread and the sons of the earth. How beautiful the feet that walked the long dusty roads and the hills to the cross. How beautiful. How beautiful. How beautiful is the body of Christ. How beautiful the heart the bled, that took all my sin and bore it instead. How beautiful the tender eyes, that chose to forgive and never despise. How beautiful. How beautiful. How beautiful is the body of Christ. ”
“How beautiful the radiant bride who waits for her groom with his light in her eyes. How beautiful when humble hearts give the fruit of pure lives so that others may live. How beautiful. How beautiful. How beautiful is the body of Christ. How beautiful the feet that bring the sound of good news and the love of the King. How beautiful the hands that serve the wine and the bread and the sons of the earth. How beautiful. How beautiful. How beautiful is the body of Christ.”
Lord willing, it will not be too long before the older members of our congregations and those with underlying health conditions will be able to join their church families safely in worship. As the Apostle Paul says, we need each part of the body in order to function at our best. “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body–whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.” “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27)