Typically we think of the phrase “It takes a village” as applying only to raising children. But, I’m pretty sure the apostle Paul would have said that we all need a village, and, in fact, that the Divine has given each of us different gifts so as to ensure we band together as a village. Except Paul used the analogy of the body. He said, “The body is one, even though it has many parts; all the parts – many though they are – comprise a single body…God put all the different parts into one body on purpose. If all the parts were alike where would the body be? (1 Cor. 12: 12, 18)
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This is sort of a no-brainer, but then Paul nails us with the “traps” that keep us from having that kind of village.
The first trap is believing that we’re not good enough to be part of the village. “I don’t like being a foot… I wanted to be a hand… hands are so much better, they can do so much more.”
We’ve all been there, done that.
The first trap goes hand-in-hand with the second… that we’ve been conditioned to believe that some people are worth more than others and some skills are better than others. Therefore, that some people have worth and others don’t. We want to be more than we are. We want what others have, and so deny the strength, purpose and value of, not only ourselves, but the whole village.
I listen to our wonderful pianist, Sue, I SO wish I could play like that. But I could play the same piece 50 times (and I’m sure I have) and never be able to play it as well as she does on the first try. She has a natural musical skill.
At times I’m jealous and envious. And I recognize that I probably have less appreciation for what I can do, because I’m dwelling on the fact that I don’t have what seems to be a much more fun, exciting gift. Simply put, some days I feel like a bellybutton when I want to be a glamorous eye!
I’ve worked with so many people over the years who wanted purpose and meaning, but felt the same way. “I’m just a belly button (sigh), what can I do?”
This gets even more difficult the older we get and the more physical ability we lose. A true community will still see that person as valuable for the different gifts that age offers… perspective, wisdom, storytelling, compassion, and so forth.
In the past I was just as grateful for the volunteers who folded weekly bulletins, cleaned out the pews, or visited the shut-ins, as I was for the lay leader and church council chair. We needed them all, though some were considered more important than that others. Paul is clear that all gifts have equal value, because all are needed for the body to be whole and function well.
I look around our little community on Sunday mornings and I am in awe of the number of gifts that the people bring not only to Sacred Journeys, but to their families and the greater community. I watch how everyone interacts and I don’t sense a hierarchy, and it is a beautiful thing to see! Seriously. To watch everyone come together to help one another, or to go on a mission trip, or to solve a problem, or to help Sunday mornings function… it is simply beautiful. Our God-given gifts at work without ego or a need to control. Just a desire to benefit the common good.
That’s a great feeling. That’s what being a community is about.
It all gets us back to figuring out what our gifts are and learning to use them. What do you love to do that can benefit others? No matter how “small” you may think it is. Where does your energy and passion lie? And how is the Spirit moving you to share it? Pay attention, as the Divine continually puts opportunities in front of us to use our gifts.
Love & Light!