Please be Seated
When I first sat down to write this I had absolutely no idea what to say or where to begin. I had all the readings on one side of my computer and my set of gibberish notes I couldn’t decipher on the other; I’m not the most organized person in the world.
But I looked down at what I had in front of me, and out of that muddle came what I thought I had so clearly seen before.
In Paul’s letter, he stresses the importance of the little parts of the body becoming a whole being.
Paul is writing to this group of early Christians, perhaps confused by conflicting ideas and theological concepts, and saying that this whole idea can only work if we come together, “the body is one.”
This conflict that affected those early Christians is certainly not a trend of the time period. It’s present all around us, all the time, in our daily lives.
I have the absolute hardest time in the world getting along with my lab partner. He wants do it one way, I want to do it my way, but eventually we have to get it done.
And though I certainly don’t work in a professional environment, I’m sure this same problem is present there, in fact, everywhere.
I joined the Maggie Walker Governor’s School chorus my freshman year only because it sounded better than journalism as my elective. I signed up again the next year because it was something to do, but I quickly realized that I really enjoyed the class. It was the period I couldn’t wait to go to.
I loved my teacher, the other choristers and the whole atmosphere. I loved this class and was looking forward to being a senior this year.
I found out over the summer, though, that my beloved chorus teacher would not be returning and right then and there, in typical melodramatic teenage girl fashion, I decided that chorus would be absolutely horrible, unbearable even.
I came into class that first day, and immediately noticed the class had dropped by ten people; we had 17 people, which for a chorus was tiny.
We diligently prevailed though, but that “little” bit of bad attitude I had brought with me at the beginning of the year may have stayed.
I went about my merry I’m-a-senior-it-doesn’t-matter-anymore way, essentially ignoring the fact that I was in a group of seventeen other individuals.
When we were preparing for our winter concert the girl I sit next to turned to me and said, “I don’t think we sound as good as we did last year because we aren’t a group, we don’t all get along.”
I suddenly realized that you couldn’t be in a group of people and not be part of it. It simply doesn’t work.
In today’s reading Paul is warning us not to see ourselves as separate entities, but as part of the whole, whether the whole is religion or choir.
I didn’t see myself as part of the group, the very thing Paul is telling us not to do, I did. I saw the choir as 17 different individuals, not one group, but a choir works best when you don’t hear each single voice, but instead hear the perfect blend of all 17 voices.
I became so caught up in my own life and how I felt, that I forgot about the people around me, about why I was in the class in the first place.
When we all came together, that’s what made the class so great. What made the music not just good, but fun and worth being a part of.
Groups, whether 17 or1700, don’t work if everyone doesn’t support and believe in one another.
In the world we live this is also true.
There is conflict and strife everywhere. Everyday we see death and destruction in Syria, hostage crises in Algeria, and political mudslinging here. It almost seems that at every corner there is some state of destruction or havoc.
Almost as if you can’t escape it.
This constant state of upheaval follows us everywhere. It plagues our daily lives.
So how can we live by what Paul says: if one suffers we all suffer; if one is honored, we all rejoice.
Living as a supportive and loving group is hard, but I truly believe that we as a nation, a church, or a choir, can and do come together.
While it would be easier to become someone who crawls back into a little shell, we all rise up and support each other.
I’ve sat in this church since I was little. With my sister, my brother, my father, my mother, with many of you. I was raised here.
I used to sit in the balcony at 9 o’clock while my mother sang, and I thought I had the absolute best seat in the house. To my left were the myriad of singers doing what they loved each week and down below was a sea of people.
I felt like I could see EVERYTHING.
What a saw was a group of people who came together every week to participate in something they believed in.
In a church as big as ours is it can be easy to get lost in the crowd or to feel like you’re on the outside, to not feel a part of something, but I didn’t see each separate family or person; I saw a congregation.
Each separate parishioner in this church is not what makes it so important to me. It’s the way that we all come together,
To teach Sunday school,
To aid in CARITAS,
To help on mission trips,
Or to sing every Sunday.
That’s what makes this place so wonderful; everyone works together to make a difference, to do something.
I see it all the time, every time I’m here.
And even though I’m just an eighteen year old girl who doesn’t know where to go to college or what to do with her life, and though I’ve had no epiphanies or major revelations,
I believe there is something in our readings and in my experience that I can offer that is, if only slightly, a different view.
Which is this: I see all the great work that is done here and I ask you to look and see it too.
I encourage all of you to think about the people around you, those you and those you don’t know yet. What do they mean to you? What could they mean to you if you got to know them? If we ask out selves these questions what do we learn //
To celebrate in their joys and grieve in their sorrows with them.
Life is too precious to live in conflict, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. The little things are the one that are the most important.
When we look at the people around us and the support and care they offer us, that is when we live by Paul’s words.