Imagine for a moment entering and being in the place you call home. Now the home I am talking about may or may not be your current home where you live. It may be your grandmother’s house, the family farm or some other place entirely. The point is that this is the place where you feel completely safe and your most authentic self. This is the place where you instinctively know no matter where you are in the world you are always welcome back with open arms and you belong no matter what. Home is the place you are forever connected and drawn to. Imagine being in that space again. Who do you see? Who is there? Imagine the smells coming out of the kitchen as dinner is being prepared. Imagine the conversations with others who are there. Who do you speak to? Who speaks to you? Who do you confide in? Who is the one person who you seek advice from?
For me, these places in our lives are an icon of what the Body of Christ is like. In the Body of Christ we find community, safety and the ability to be our most true self. The Body of Christ consists of more than just one or two people, but includes a community of people that forms a family and a network of support. As with any family, it doesn’t mean that everyone always agrees. It does mean that when we need support the most, these are the people who have our backs no questions asked. This is the community where we share our greatest joys and successes as well as our deepest pain and sorrow.
Through Baptism we become members of the Body of Christ. We are claimed and chosen by God as one of God’s own beloved people. Because of this, there is plenty of reason to celebrate and rejoice. We are welcomed into a community where we will always belong and that will always have our backs in our successes, failures, joy and pain.
We also see the Body of Christ reflected in many different ways. One of the primary ways we see and experience the Body of Christ is through our church community. That is why baptisms are most often done in the context of the worshiping community because this is where we, the Body of Christ gathers. We gather to be renewed, transformed and strengthened for the work that God calls us to do. This is the community and place where we lean on one another for support.
Another way we experience the Body of Christ is through song. As I was researching various hymns and their tunes I stumbled across an explanation on singing and the impact that singing has on us and the body. The person was talking about various studies that have been done on human and animal behavior. Many species of animals use music for a variety of reasons. There are mating songs, calls for alarm, calls for calm. All of which use the voice. In humans apparently it has been studied that when a group of people gather and sing we begin to follow the same rhythm and pattern as the music. Not only that we begin to breathe together at the same time. When the heartbeat of a group of people singing is measured, often it is the same as if it were one heart that was beating. So when all these elements are combined, following the same meter and rhythm, our breathing becomes one, our heartbeat becomes one it is as if collectively we form one body breathing and singing together - the Body of Christ.
What was also interesting to in these studies is that for most animals, in the face of danger they grow very still and quiet. But for humans, in the face of danger we grow louder and stronger. We are more inclined to meet danger and conflict through song - the louder the better. Think of National Anthems, The New Zealand All Blacks rugby team and the Haka for example. It appears that in times of crisis and threat we instinctively know to come together, grow larger than our individual selves and become one voice. We move forward, not retreating, not keeping quiet because we find strength in numbers as the Body of Christ.
The lyrics to the hymn: “My Life Flows On in Endless Song” captures a lot of what being in community and relationship with one another and as the Body of Christ means. The hymn talks about no matter how we may be tempted in life, no matter what the danger is or who the enemy may be, we know that, “Love is lord of heaven and earth” and therefore we cannot keep from singing. With these words from the refrain in mind we are reminded once again we belong to God and God’s radical and unconditional love for us and all humanity. As we gather to welcome Jackson into the Body of Christ and to celebrate with his family let us also be reminded of our own commitment to our Baptismal Covenant. God calls us through our baptism to live and work in the world in a certain way. In part we are called to safe guard the integrity of the earth and to respect the dignity of every human being. This can be hard sometimes. The point is not to always be perfect in keeping our Baptismal Covenant or expect that we will always make the right choices. We won’t, there will be times when we will make mistakes. There will also be times when we are afraid; when it is hard to see the light and the good in life and that we are surrounded by darkness. Our hymn comes back and reminds us that God and God’s love will prevail as the last stanza reads, “The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart, a fountain ever springing. All things are mine since I am his; how can I keep from Singing.”
Keep singing, keep standing and keep on being the best People of God you can be wherever life takes you. Because no matter where you go, no matter how alone you feel or how severe life’s storms may be, you are God’s beloved child. You belong to God and the Body of Christ. And that is worth singing about.