Archive for the 'Epiphany' Category

Epiphany 4, 1 Corinthian 12:12-31

March 25, 2013

Historical Description:

Antony Gormley, a modern British sculptor most famous for his Angel of the North sculpture located in Gateshead, was commissioned to create a sculpture to stand next to the Millennium Dome in London. Quantum Cloud was completed in 1999, and it is the tallest sculpture to date completed by Gormley.

Visitors to the Millennium Dome will be greeted by this imposing statue dedicated to the mathematical structure underlying space-time and matter, or as Gormley said speaking about the mathematical structure, “the relationship of relationships.”

The imposing structure seems to be made up of many steel sections connected together; however, onlookers will soon notice that the mass in the middle takes on the form of a man seemingly communicating that the mathematical processes are intricately related to those who discover their secrets.

Devotional Reflection:

Perspective is everything. Those journeying down the Thames River will encounter this object in different ways.  First, from a distance as they move towards the sculpture, and then close up as they arrive at the sculpture. Those at a distance, moving toward the sculpture, will see a defined man in the middle of the structure, but as they move closer it becomes harder and harder to see. When the journey has brought them close to the sculpture, the man is hard to define and gets lost in the quantum chaos becoming an indefinable mass in the middle.

In the Epistle reading, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a, Paul creates an image of something that is not always easy to perceive and that is the body of Christ. Paul says in verse 12, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” Oftentimes, it can be hard to see that the entire body of Christ is made up of many different and distinct units. In the case of the sculpture many units of steel beams come together in a way which defines an image in the center, an image of a man, of a body. The same is true with the church. Many different members make up one distinct body that can be seen from many different directions and in many different ways. Christ has formed his body in multifaceted beauty.

Those who are far away can see clearly the body in the midst of the chaos, but as they move closer to the center that same body can be harder and harder to define. Consider our text.  In this case, the one who is far away from the church in Corinth, is Paul and he can perceive the larger picture of body of Christ, and how that body is being disrupted by the actions and the attitudes of the people in the church. The people in the church, however, are so close to the body that it has become hard for them to distinguish.  They cannot see that their actions are hurting the body of Christ. Their actions are causing the body to fall apart and Paul sees this. The same thing happens this very day. Paul asks us to imagine a physical body where the arm says to the leg that it is more important.  When the leg is removed, however, the bodily wholeness is broken apart. One may not see the destruction one is doing to the body because one does not have the wider perspective.  Each part is dependent upon the other, and when one part is removed the image starts to break down. It is no longer what it was intended to be. When the different parts are removed, the body becomes much harder to define even at a distance.

Paul is seeing the body of Christ at Corinth break apart before his eyes and, because of this, Paul gives those who are in the midst of the chaos and confusion this letter. This letter calls them to see the body and it calls us to see the body of Christ as well.  When we are in the midst of a struggle, it can be hard to see the body of Christ.  The body of Christ, however, exists and Paul’s words give witness to it.  Paul’s words call us to remember that we are the body of Christ, seen in the world. Our actions and attitudes toward one another offer the world a glimpse of the body of Christ, in all of its variety and beauty.

The body of Christ can be seen at different angles and from different distances. The church is made up of not just one person or one gift but of many people and many gifts. Christ joins his people together in way that makes them witnesses to the world of the perfect body of Christ. Not only are the members of the body of Christ intricately connected with each other, but they also form something much larger and more defined than themselves. They form the Church.  “As it is, there are many parts,yet one body” (1 Cor 12:20).