It’s really great when the body works correctly and and when the church is actually being the the hands and feet and mouth and eyes of Jesus and seeing all the needs and seeing all the all the broken pieces and seeing everything that needs to happen. Isn’t that incredible? Isn’t it wonderful when the body is acting and functioning the way it’s supposed to be? Many of us can remember times in our life when we were at optimal health. We can remember times when when we could run long distance or or climb a bunch of flights of stairs without losing our breath.

We could we could do lots of things and we kind of hearken back to those moments when our body responds exactly the way we want it to.

But many of us have dealt with injury in life. Personally, I. I’ve dealt with injury. I, I broke my neck when I was 15, I. I’ve pulled ligaments, I’ve strained muscles, we have John is dealing with a strain back right now and and some of that is so difficult to deal with, what do we do? When we have broken bodies, what do we do when our bodies are not responding the way we want to?

You know, I’m one of the things that is true and interesting is a lot of times external breaks are much easier to deal with than internal breaks. A lot of times it’s much easier to deal with a broken bone than an internal problem.

And much of Paul’s writing is dedicated to the healing of the body, considering that the body is the church. Paul spent most of his time writing letters on hamster wheel the body, and some of those breaks were external. They came from outside causes. A lot of a lot of things that were happening in the Roman Empire and and around the early Christian church were causing problems to the church. And so some of his writing was dedicated to resolving those issues.

But a lot more of his writing was actually. Trying to deal with internal issues, trying to deal with problems within the church, with difficulties within brothers and sisters. You know, and over the last few years, our family has had to learn a lot about the inner workings of the body, especially the central nervous system. Here’s a picture of my mom and, you know, my mom just turned sixty eight, she was diagnosed about eight years ago with with MS multiple sclerosis and unfortunately, she has progressive multiple sclerosis.

And this past week was especially difficult for her. I talked to my dad yesterday and this past week she fell three times and thankfully was not injured terribly more than bumps and bruises. But each one of those falls is very scary. She’s hit her head several times.

She also got lost. My parents recently moved back to Florida and they bought a very small home, nine hundred and eighty square feet. And last week she got lost twice, going from the bathroom to the living room.

And my dad is is very worried, concerned, obviously, my brother and I are very worried and concerned for my mom, but one of the things that’s that’s hard to understand sometimes is outside of her mouth.

My mom is actually very healthy. She quit smoking about 15 years ago after about 50 years of smoking.

So maybe, you know, and. And amazingly, she doesn’t have emphysema. Her lungs have regenerated. She’s she’s actually a very healthy person.

All the numbers are in line, but her body has stopped communicating with itself.

MS has attacked her, her nervous system and, you know, it’s it’s hard to watch. MS has caused a communication problem, lesions in her brain. Or in the nervous system, start breaking down normal functions, so even though my mom is otherwise healthy, her body does not communicate with itself and she’s losing her memory, her mobility and her identity. And as the church, we can run the exact same risk if we don’t hold fast to the head, that is Christ.

Let’s read together Colossians Chapter two, verses 18 and 19, it says, “Let no one disqualify you insisting on asteism and worship of angels. Going on in detail about visions puffed up, about puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind and not holding fast to the head from which the whole body nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grow with a growth that is from God.”

And I love this Scripture, not for the negative connotation that it was written in, but what it says about who Christ is in with us and in us and in the church. It says if we hold fast. To the head. Then the whole body, all of the ligaments, all of the joints, all of the parts which we know through Paul’s other writing are us. We are the joints in the ligaments and the sinews of the body. We are the muscles.

We are the hands. We are the feet. We are the mouth. We are the eyes. When we hold fast to the head. Then everything works, it’s knitted together in perfect unity, it grows in God, and that’s awesome. That’s incredible. That’s encouraging and it’s something that we all should want to live in our lives. But if we allow ourselves to be enticed by our sensuous mind, if we stop holding fast to the head and that’s the problem with my mom’s health, is her brain does no longer communicate with the rest of the body.

And if we understand that Jesus is the head, Jesus is where we need to connect to get our instruction, to get our direction, to get to get everything we’re supposed to do. When we disconnect. When we no longer hold fast, when we allow the puffed up ideas of the world to get into. Our thought process, it causes lesions and I think sometimes we aren’t aware of it.

For example. According to my mom, she had a doctor tell her when she was 35 or 40 that she had M.S., but she didn’t believe the doctor.

Now, part of that was because of the recreational drugs they were taking. She didn’t feel any of the ill effects of. Of the of the disease, so she felt fine. But quietly, this disease was killing her. And in the same way, so many times we allow Satan to just get right under our hearts, our minds. Little by little, and he doesn’t have to take much. A misstep, a slurred word. This or that, and all of the sudden we find ourselves in a terrible situation, and that’s why.

When we study the Bible with people, we tell them the importance of reading the Bible daily. We talk about the importance of daily scripture, reading daily prayer. I don’t think God is up in heaven with a time clock checking to see if we checked in or checked out or what we’re doing. It’s not for his benefit, but ours because it allows us to stay connected with him. It allows us to understand his thought process so we don’t miss those little things.

But many times we drag ourselves little by little and we don’t feel the ill effects. Of our sensuous mind until it’s too late, you know, one of the areas that we have to make sure that we are. Really taken care of, and we’ve talked a lot about it over this month because we are talking about one body and one of the themes of that one body, one of Paul’s principal themes was the theme of unity.

We need to make sure that we’re not just giving lip service to unity. We need to make sure that we are actually living in a way that reflects and encourages unity. You know, unity in the body of Christ is not just a good idea, it’s actually imperative.

We need to. I want to spend a little bit of time in Ephesians Chapter four verses one through seven, and we’ll read that now. It says, “I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one spirit, just as you were called, to the one hope that belongs to your call.

One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. But Grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Now this is our theme scripture for the year. We are talking about one and we are actually going to spend time talking about this month, one body, next month, one spirit, one hope, one call, one lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all.

But today, I want to talk a little bit about that last part God gave each of us Grace, according to the measure of Christ’s gift, God has gifted his church in such a way that we can live in a way that is that is.

Worthy, I was going to say Dignam in a way that is worthy of the colony that we’ve received as disciples of Christ, but unity is not uniformity. We do not need to look the same at the same. Many of us remember the 90s where everyone had to have the same haircut. It was cookie cutter Christianity. And that’s not what Jesus wants. Unity comes from within. It’s a spiritual grace, it’s a gift from God. While uniformity is the result from pressure from outside, we’re pushing things in a mold to make them the same, and we don’t want uniformity.

We love the fact that we have a church that’s different, that thinks different, that that looks different, that is different. Jesus’s own disciples were very different from one another. Their thinking, their their background, their culture. It was it was a melting pot within that early 1st century Jewish landscape and the same thing happens to our church, our church needs to reflect. The world we live in, our church needs to reflect and does, for the most part reflect the city of Orlando, and that’s awesome.

But you can’t make everyone fit the same mold. It won’t happen, it’s not ever going to happen.

You know, so Paul, Paul says. “We are a human body, and and that is his picture of unity.” He uses it in First Corinthians 12 and then adopts the same illustration in Ephesians four versus 13.

Through 16 in each part of the body is different from all the other parts, yet they all make up one body and work together. And if we’re going to preserve the unity of spirit. We must possess the necessary Christian graces and and Paul actually highlights seven in this scripture and I have them highlighted here, but the first one he talks about is humility. You know, somebody has said humility is a grace, that when you know you have it, you’ve lost it.

You know, it’s one of those elusive things, but humility means putting Christ first, other, second and self last. It’s one of the hardest things in the world to do because we generally and genuinely think that we’re right. We usually think that our ideas are the best ideas. I mean, that’s the best we came up with, you know, so it’s hard to understand. Oh, my idea might not be the best idea because a lot of times when we’ve thought about it, we’ve we put our best selves into the idea that we that we’ve come up with.

And that’s why for so many people, it’s hard to become a Christian because they’ve pulled themselves into being the best version of themselves.

And to accept that that’s not. Good enough or that’s not what God desires is hard to accept, and so we we really have to think about it. Humility means we we know ourselves. We need to know our own weaknesses. And that’s hard to look at. Most of us don’t enjoy looking in the mirror and looking for the blemishes and looking for the faults and looking for four things, we all have areas that, you know, they take a picture, hey, get me from this angle, because I looked at it from this angle or, you know, make sure the camera’s up high so it hides my double chin or we take the picture from here up because I don’t want you to see my gut and and we don’t really enjoy looking at ourselves.

But it requires knowing ourselves, do we know our weaknesses and a few months back, I actually encouraged our leadership team to read a book called Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership, because each of us has a dark side, each of us has a human nature. Each of us has things that that we we have to put to death and crucify on a daily basis. And it’s so important to be able to do that. But we can’t do that if we can’t see ourselves.

Could you imagine trying to comb your hair and shave for the guys without a mirror? Women, could you imagine trying to put on your makeup without a mirror? I mean, sometimes even a regular mirror is not enough. You use a mirror that has magnification and lighting and and all kinds of things. You want to expose every every blemish so that you can get it right. But do we put our lives under that same type of magnification? Do we put our thoughts under that same type of magnification?

It requires humility to do that, to know ourselves, but then we also have to accept ourselves. You know, a lot of us struggle with self-loathing, we see ourselves, we know ourselves, and we don’t want to accept it and we hate ourselves for it.

And that’s not right, because we are created in the image of God and God loves us. And God has created us to be part of his bigger picture. And we have to be able to accept that. You know, God gave gifts according to the measure of his grace, we all were gifted the way that he saw fit and a lot of times we don’t like our gift and we feel like it’s the white elephant. And we want to exchange our gift with the gift of others.

And we’re fighting and we’re bickering over who gets what gift. But God gave you the gift he wanted you to have because he knew that you were needed in the building of his kingdom and the building of his church in the building of Christ’s body. But we have to have the ability to accept ourselves. And then we have to be ourselves, we have to feel good in our own skin, be who have our own personality, have our own ideas, we have to feel good about who we are.

For the glory of God. Now, we shouldn’t just be who we are and and everyone else has to deal with it, and we’re going to get to that part later. Though some of us, some of us are kind of, oh, that’s just the way I am. Well, we have to be careful with that, but we do have to be able to accept ourselves, right? You know, God does not condemn you when you accept yourself or when you accept your gifts.

If he just doesn’t want us to think more highly of ourselves, then we ought. He also doesn’t want us to think more of ourselves unless highly of ourselves, then we ought. You know, the second thing he highlights is meekness or gentleness. And one of the things we have to understand is gentleness is not weakness. You know, I’ve I’ve spent a lot of my adult life working in Latino populations. And and one of the things we have to struggle with is the idea of machismo, the idea that if I’m gentle then I’m weak and and so there is a roughness about men especially. That they want to be tough and they want to be rough, but that is not the idea of gentleness, that is not the idea of meekness.

It’s actually power under control, it’s actually being able to submit your strength. For the glory of God. You know, Moses was a meek man, it says so in numbers 12, verse three, yet we see a tremendous power that he exercised. Matthew, 11 verse twenty 29 says Jesus was meek and lowly at heart, yet he drove the money changers away from the temple. You know, in the Greek language, the word was used for a soothing medicine, something that tempered pain or a colt, a young a young horse that had been broken and a soft wind.

In each case, you have power, but the powers under control. You know, a horse doesn’t stop being a powerful animal, just because it’s been subdued and domesticated, and that’s what we have to do, we have to domesticate, Christify our worldly hateful, angry, sensuous mind. Then after that, he says patients, you know, and that’s an ally that’s that’s a friend of of meanness, it actually means long suffering, which literally means long tempered.

You know, the ability to endure discomfort without fighting back, you know, one of the one of the great myths that I breathed in my life is that I was a patient person. I am not a patient person, I’m an even tempered person that is not the same thing. I do not tend to blow up. But I do not endure discomfort without resisting. I do not I do not fight against things without fighting back, but I don’t accept things without fighting back.

That’s that’s not my nature. I may not yell. I might not have bursts of violence. But I’m a very impatient person, and I always thought I was a patient person. And I have to know that about myself, you know. And that’s where the next thing is so important, you know, it leads to the mention of a forbearance bearing with one another and how are we doing with bearing with one another?

He says it’s a grace that can’t be experienced apart from love, because if you do not love the person, you’re not going to put up with them, that’s really what it means. It’s the grace of putting up with people. And I need to ask you and we need to ask ourselves as Christians, how good are we with putting up with people? And I’m not talking about to their faces. Because I think we do a great job of putting up to people, to their faces.

But in our hearts behind their backs, do we truly bear with one another? Or do we just barely put up with one another. And in first Corinthians 13, verse four, it says, love is patient and it is kind, you know, Paul is actually describing some of the fruit of the spirit.

And in Galatians five, twenty two and twenty three for the unity of the spirit. You know, Ephesians four is actually the result of a disciple walking in the spirit when you and I walk in the spirit. We can bear with one another our burdens, we can love one another, you know, the next the next gift, the next grace that contributes to the unity of the spirit is endeavor are eagerness. Says eager to maintain good will, it means being eager to maintain or guard the unity of spirit. You know, and it’s great that we love one another. I I once read, you know, as as I was preparing for a wedding, I once I once read this in some sermon notes, it said to a newlywed couple, it’s great that you love each other. But if you’re going to be happy in marriage, you got to work at it.

You know, the verb here used that word says, eager to maintain. It’s a present participle, so it’s a present participle, which is our ing endings. It’s present continuous, it keeps going. Which means we must constantly be endeavoring to maintain unity, unity is like cleaning our house, you know, if you stop doing it, you’re going to lose it. You know, clean house lasts about two days if you don’t work to maintain it.

It’s amazing. You know, yesterday we finished all of the laundry in the house. There wasn’t a dirty stitch of anything in the house. Today we have half a hamper. That’s 12 hours and we have half a hamper of dirty clothes. How much if we don’t work constantly on guarding our heart and keeping it unified, how much can we go astray? How much can we get sideways and turned around and lost?

If we don’t work constantly. You know, it’s actually when we think the situation is the best, that Satan moves into to wreck it. Have you ever had that you just come out of this great victory of feeling good about yourself. You had this great quiet time and then Satan comes in with a B 52 bomber and just destroys everything you’re trying to do. That’s actually his M.O. That’s actually what he loves to do. You know, the spirit of the spiritual unity of the home, of a church is actually the responsibility of every one involved, and it never ends. You can’t say, well, I dealt with, you know Louis, I had a beef and we we resolved it yesterday. Well, that doesn’t mean I have to I can stop trying to be unified with Louis because it could be next week we have another beef.

And if you know me, then I’m probably you’ll probably have a beef with me soon. You know, it’s just kind of the way we are. You know, we can get a little snarky, a little out of out of wacks and out of sorts. And I understand I’m not the greatest person around when I’m out of sorts. And then the final thing that Paul talks about his piece and he says the bond of peace. You know, and I really wanted to spend a little bit of time looking at James three versus 13 through 17 because really this is the most vivid treatment of war and peace in the New Testament, and so we’re going to go to James chapter three, starting in verse 13. And it says, “who is why is an understanding among you?” You know, that’s a great question. You know, who is that person, who is that that wise and understanding person? Because that’s what we want to be. You know, it does say we can tell.

You know, it says by his good conduct, let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. So that wise person, he has a his conduct shows wisdom, he’s thoughtful, he’s. He’s he’s gentle and meek, like we talked about. Then it goes on to say, But the wisdom from about this first pure, then peaceable. Gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

You know, I think that’s a great sentence because, you know, a lot of times we are wise, we think we’re smarter than others, and we we attribute that to wisdom. People need to listen to me because I’m an expert at what I’m talking about. But the Bible, James, actually says truism from above as first pure. You know, it has pure motives, it doesn’t have an agenda, you know, a lot of times we we want to show ourselves smarter than others because we have an agenda.

We want to prove a point. But then it says it’s peaceable. And I I want you to think about the last time you were in an argument, in a debate, in a discussion. Where you peaceable? You know, were you gentle? Were you open to reason? Hey, let’s discuss this, let’s work at it. Let’s look at this from every angle and wrap our heads around that.

Is that what we did? Where we found mercy because because here’s the thing, a lot of times when we we might be in that argument and then we find checkmate, you know, we’re ready to close the argument we have that we have the final nail in the coffin. Are we merciful? Or do we let them have it? Do we let them know I told you this is right, I was right. You were wrong.

Or are we, merciful? Do we understand that we, too, can get trapped in broken reasoning? And it says good fruits, impartial and sincere. That’s wisdom. What’s the other side look like? It says. “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition. In your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth, this is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but it’s earthly and spiritual, demonic for where jealousy and selfish ambition exists. There will be disorder and every vile practice.”

We have to be careful of our own selfishness, our own unspiritualness. James uses a scary word, he says, that’s demonic and I had to think about how many times in my life I have acted demonic because I wanted my way. I was jealous or I was selfish and there was something in my heart and I was boastful and false to the truth, I was being demonic.

I don’t know about you, but I want to have that wisdom that comes from above. I want to be a man that is wise and gentle and merciful and good and pure. That’s the person I want to be. And the Bible says if I am that person, then I will be an agent. Of unity, an agent of peace in God’s church. You know, the second part of Ephesians four. Starting in verse eight. Actually says:

“Therefore, it says when he ascended on high, he led a host of captives and he gave gifts to men. We are those men saying he ascended. What does it mean? But that he had also descended into the lower regions. The earth he descended is the one who also ascended from high from above all. The heavens that he might fill all things.” Then he then he gets to where we want to go, “and he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ until we all attain the unity of faith and of the knowledge of the son of God to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness and deceitful schemes, rather speaking the truth and love. We had to grow up in every way into him. Who is the head into Christ from whom the whole body joined and held together by every joint, which with it is equipped when each part is working properly, makes the body grow. So that builds itself up in love.”

You know isn’t that an incredible passage. It says God gave leadership, God gave prophets and apostles not to do all the work but to prepare the church to work towards making God’s kingdom awesome.

You know, he says he says the job is to equip the Saints for the work of ministry. The work of ministry is all of our work. We are responsible for building our church. We are we are responsible for building Christ’s body. Peter says. We are living stones. We are actually the brick and mortar of the Temple of God.

Isn’t that awesome, and we all have work to do. But we need to make sure that we are working towards the unity of faith, we do not want to be children tossed back and forth by whatever is going on.

You know what? Whatever happens in the news should not make us waver in our faith. Whatever happens in our neighborhood should not make us waver in our faith. Whatever crisis is in our life, in our health, in our family should not make us waver. From the church, because we are working towards maturity. You know, the church doesn’t call the pastor to and pay them to do the work they call him and follow his leadership. And my responsibility, Marshall’s responsibility, Mike’s responsibility, our house church leaders responsibility is to equip the church to do its job.

The members of the church grow by feeding on the word and ministering to one another. You know, a lot of times we don’t understand that when we talk about discipleship, it’s not just let me get some help for my problems in life. And a lot of times we do that. We treat discipleship like a doctor’s appointment. I need a checkup. Is this OK? But the way we grow is ministering to one another. It’s give and take as reforming Christ in our lives.

See, I grow as much by learning from people who are discipling and helping me to mature. I grow just as much, ministering to others, probably more. You know, the first evidence of spiritual maturity is Christ likedness how? Much do we resemble Christ in our lives, the second evidence of maturity is stability. You know, the mature Christian, is not tossed by whatever’s going on, you know, it’s kind of we get to the point. That we say, OK, I’ve seen this before and I know that God is faithful. You know, it’s one of those things when you’ve lived enough and you’ve matured enough, you say, OK. This, too, shall pass. That’s the second evidence of maturity as it as a church, as a Christian. Are we stable? Do we know whatever is happening? All the external still go away eventually. The only thing that that’s permanent. Is the word of God in the hope of heaven, we must understand that.

You know, the third evidence is truth joined with love. You know, speaking the truth and love Ephesians 4:15. You know, it’s been it’s been said that truth without love is brutality. But love, without truth is hypocrisy. Children don’t know how to blend truth and love, they think that if you love somebody, you must shield them from the truth. If knowing the truth will hurt them, that’s immaturity because they can’t handle the truth, it will hurt them.

But it’s a mark of maturity when we’re able to share the truth with our brothers and sisters and do so in love. You know, Proverbs 27 six says “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

Another evidence of maturity’s cooperation. And we need to realize that as members of the body. The local body. We belong to one another. We are not entities of our own.

What I do affects you, what you do affects me. The way we treat each other hurts our brothers and sisters. If I’m rude to you, it’s going to hurt you, but it’s also going to hurt anyone who sees that. If I’m unloving to someone, it affects the faith of others. We need each other, no matter how insignificant. They may appear every member has a ministry to every other member. You know, a body grows, the church grows as its individual members grow. And they grow as they feed on the word and minister to one another. And we have to understand, Paul once again emphasizes love. Bearing with one another and love speaking the truth in love, edifying of itself in love, the church grows in love.

So love is the circulatory system of the body. It is just it has been discovered that isolated, unloved babies do not grow properly and they’re especially susceptible to disease while babies who are loved and handled grow normally.

And that was that’s the premise of Mark Onwyler’s work in Africa with young childhood development with child. They they carry kids. That’s that’s the whole program. They touch, cuddle and play with kids. And that changes lives. Babies who are loved and handled grow normally and they grow stronger the same way with the children of God. An isolated Christian cannot minister to others, nor can others minister to him, and that’s the call to the church. We need to stop. We are socially distancing but that doesn’t mean we need to isolate ourselves. We need to continue to be connected more so than ever. We can’t minister to one another, nor can nor can we be ministered to or our gifts be used if we’re not connected. So spiritual unity is not something that we manufacture.

There’s no there’s no 12 step program. There’s no plan. There’s no there is no cookie cutter. It’s something we have because Jesus died for us, and that’s going to be our communion thought, we must protect it and maintain it as the church, the truth unites but lies divide, love unites, but selfishness divides, so speaking, the truth in love let us equip one another and edify one another that we may all grow and be more like Christ.

It truly is Jesus that holds us together. This is our communion verse, it says:

“He is the image of the invisible God. The first born of all creation for by him, all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. Whether throne’s or dominions or rulers or authorities, all things were created through him and for him, and he is before all things and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the first born of the from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

You know. I don’t know about you, but I can’t keep myself together without a quiet time, it’s as Jesus keeps the church together. Amen. Jesus keeps us together. I can’t keep myself together if I don’t pray and read my Bible. How in the world can I expect other people to deal with me if I can’t deal with myself without God? You know, in our house, if either Wendy, as it is, particularly chippy, it’s common to say to ask each other, have you read your Bible? And even if you say yes, you say, well, maybe you need to go read it a little more.

And I think sometimes we get that way. Well, you might need a little more quiet time because Jesus holds it all together and then it says “For in Him, all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell and through him to reconcile to himself all things whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death in order to present you wholly and blameless and above reproach before him.”

God was pleased to live in Christ. For in Him, all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. You know, as we go to communion, it’s through Jesus’s death that we’ve been reconciled. And because of that, God also is pleased to dwell in you. Your heart, your mind, your soul was a happy home for God because of Jesus’s sacrifice. Because he gave all so that you and I could be unified with his father.

Should we not give all to be unified first with him and then with one another? And finally. It says, “if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard.” You know, God is happy to live in us. As long as we remain faithful, we must continue steadfast.

Communion is a time to remember where we’re going, we’re headed to heaven. But it’s also a time to remember who were traveling with. You know, and I as I was writing this, I had, you know, my parents were on my mind a lot this week, my my mom, especially even as I was writing the notes up for this sermon, and I was remembering as we were kids and we were living here in Orlando and my grandparents were in Plantation, Fort Lauderdale. And, you know, we would drive down consistently to see my grandparents. And we love spending time with my grandparents. But, man, those car trips were rough.

I’ll be honest, the turnpike was the place I hated more than anywhere on Earth. Those mile markers, it took forever. And I just remember we were going as a kid. You know, asking dad how much father? Are we almost there? Complaining that one of my brothers was touching me or breathing my air. I don’t know how we made it from Orlando to Fort Lauderdale without killing each other, but we did every time. We never lost one of us.

Three kids piled in the back seat left Orlando. Three kids piled in the backseat, irritated, hot, sweaty, exasperated made it to Fort Lauderdale. Every single time. Those mile markers, they were a symbol of progress. We weren’t there yet. There was a long way to go, but every time we saw a mile marker, we were that much closer communion. Is that. Hey, we’re all in this together.

This is an old steamy station wagon, we call it a church. But we got us all piled in the back seat and we might jab each other, poke each other, read each other’s air. But if we do it right, we won’t lose anyone on the way and we’ll all get there, and every time we sit for communion, every time we take the bread and take the fruit of the vine. We’re remembering we’re one mile marker closer and we’re still in the car together.

Let us pray for communion, father, we don’t know how much longer we have to go. But we’re thankful that each time we do this. We’ve made progress and we might not feel like we’ve advanced. But we have. Many times the trip itself feels awful, but that doesn’t mean we’re not advancing. That doesn’t mean that you’re not working.

God, I’m so thankful for my brothers and sisters. I’m so thankful for the church you’ve given us. I’m so thankful for the fact that we are one body and we belong to one another. And yes, sometimes we can get chippy with one another and sometimes we can get chippy with ourselves. Sometimes we can we can hurt the people we we care the most about. But God, we’re thankful for the cross because it reminds us that even at our worst, you loved us.

Even in the moments when we could not find anything valuable. In our own lives, you saw us and gave us worth, you saw us and loved us. And God, you gave your son to purchase us, and that is an unbelievable thought for me. God, thank you so much for the bread. That resembles Jesus’s body that was broken for us. God, thank you so much for the fruit of the vine. That is his blood.

That has purchased us and cleansed us and united us as a family, as a body, as a church. God, we love you and we thank you. Amen.