"We are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another." - Romans 12:5
Last month I had an epiphany of biblical proportions. Fortunately, I was sitting down at the time and right now, I hope you are too.
It happened as I witnessed our church choir and orchestra prepare for a Good Friday offering of Fauré's Requiem. Each singer had their part. The instrumentalists had their parts. The conductor had his part and I realized, in a watershed moment of spiritual awakening if not full-blown enlightenment: They are all one thing!
Sure I'm being a bit dramatic. On the other hand I don't think it's possible to overstate the significance of this moment. They individually created and were transcended by something larger than themselves. Any single participant, even the conductor, could have dropped out and the music would have continued uninterrupted.
Then I came down with the stomach bug. In Holy Week. You can appreciate the powerful threat this posed to the most sacred time of the year and to the Kingdom itself. How would my flock successfully navigate these theologically complex days without me?
Of course, they did. Beautifully. It helps to have outstanding colleagues. And drugs. I revived in time for Easter.
An absent pastor is sometimes the best thing that can happen to a church (and the pastor). Whether your pastor is out sick, at a denominational gathering, on vacation or on an extended sabbatical, there is no better opportunity for the congregation (and the pastor) to discover themselves anew, as ministers one and all.
Yes, ministers play their part, the greatest of which is to put ourselves out of a job, as we both point to and join the heavenly song of the three-in-one-God.
Sing on, Lord God! And may I both discover and lose myself in the body of your Holy Community.
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.