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  • St. Andrew's 21 January 2007

    "Christ's Body - suffering, rejoicing"
    “Now you are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it”  Paul has been dealing with issues within church of status, wealth, gifts, - we all have gifts, we all have equal status - Christ’s body ... in which the greatest gift is love.

    That is the theory, but in practice? Lifestyle and prejudices  make that a challenge - John Newton - slave trader - acceptable business practice for a merchant seamen - worldview - people of colour were a lesser species - to challenge slavery was to challenge lifestyle and prejudice and the accepted reading of various biblical texts - Set All Free  looks at slavery 200 yrs ago and today.

    Prejudice - Big brother - racism or ignorant bullying? Genuine issue or publicity stunt? - example of prejudice, pulling body apart - when it happens within Christ’s body the whole body suffers. Week of Prayer for Christian Unity - all is not right in Christ’s body, there are prejudices that tear us apart, there are different versions of the the truth and some believe that their version must be given more honour than someone else’s - “if one part suffers every part suffers with it, if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it” and so even as we pray and work for unity within Christ’s body, there is still more suffering than rejoicing.

    Those who anticipated the Messiah anticipated one thing - Jesus brought something different - a challenge to lifestyle and prejudice - 
    ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
       because he has anointed me
         to bring good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
       and recovery of sight to the blind,
         to let the oppressed go free,
    to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
    - good news to those trapped by lifestyle and prejudice - release from all that binds - our own attitudes and those who would judge us and condemn us and constrain us - the recovery of sight for the blind - those who can not see the wonder of God’s grace for they are blinded by prejudice and the preservation of lifestyle, - to let the oppressed go free - those who impose unfair systems and those who suffer - John Newton, deep connection between his belief that he had been freed from spiritual slavery and his eventual determination to free others from physical slavery.

    We are Christ’s body - do we honour each member and rejoice? - or do we give some more honour than others and suffer? do we set people free to use the gifts that God has given them and rejoice? or do we constrain and restrict and allow the whole of Christ’s body to suffer? We proclaim good news - and the good news is that we were all baptised by one Spirit into one body - whether jews or Greeks, slave or free - and we were all given one Spirit to drink. Let us honour each other and rejoice