The Disembodied Body

Image by Efes Kitap from Pixabay

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

~~~ John 20:29  

I look each person in the face … striving to make eye contact … doing my very best to communicate warmth and receptivity … and yearning for a smile … or a nod … or a wink of acknowledgement.  But nothing comes back to me.  Because while I have fooled myself into thinking that I am engaging each person face-to-face, in reality I am not, of course.  Because I am visually trying to connect with someone who is one piece in a maze of twenty-to-thirty faces in the now, all too familiar, “Zoom Grid of Participants” as I think of it.  Think “opening credits of the old Brady Bunch TV show on steroids” and you will get the picture.  The participants in my Zoom meetings, and three Zoom classes that I teach each week, and starting next Thursday my Zoom support group … have no idea whether I am looking at them, or at one of the other 20-30 people on my computer screen.

It is the Disembodied Body of Christ.  Now, I will say with sincerity, that I know in my heart that it is better than NO BODY OF CHRIST with whom I can interact.  But … <sigh> … it is just not the same.  There is something visceral and grounding about being in human communion with another person in flesh and blood.  There are far more cues to help interpret a person’s responses, than three inches of shoulder and a head, presented on a two-dimensional screen.  It is so different from what I am used to, and so different from what I have come to rely on in my relationships with others.

It is so different … yes, indeed.  And as I thought about this week’s email devotion, I found myself thinking about the Easter season through which we are journeying liturgically.  Is not Easter defined by things that are “so different.”  Yes, Jesus was raised to a physical and corporeal body, just as we will be at the end of days.  But that body was different.  Just check out the Bible stories about Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances, as the church calls them (one snippet heads this devotion).  The disciples did not recognize him, until Jesus spoke their name or broke bread with them.

So too, will our lives be, once the Corona Virus is reigned in a bit.  Life will be … different.  How we will meet Jesus in the flesh and blood of others … will be different.  How we interact as the Body of Christ in the world … will be different.  How we take communion … the very Body of Blood of the Lord … may be different.  And, most likely, how we think and speak and serve in the Spirit of Jesus … will be different.  But have no fear.

If you are anxious, ask Thomas, one of the first people confronted with a life that was “different.”  Ask Cleopas, how it felt to meet the newly resurrected Jesus on the road to Emmaus.  Ask Peter as you share a plate of tilapia with Jesus on the lakeside shore.  Yes … life … will … be … different.  But where Jesus is present, life will also, always be good!  The Corona Virus has nothing on a God who comes back from the dead, and who brings us along for the ride till the train reaches the next stop on journey.

Rev. Craig Ross

Senior Pastor

The vibrancy of life here at St. Peter’s makes my service on our staff a joy and privilege. Visitation, teaching and preaching are the ministries that feed my pastoral identity, as together our staff and lay members share in our missional calling … Building a community of faith by God’s grace.

2 comments

  1. That we are all “nobodies of Christ” is, I think, just fine. Jesus was a carpenter, a nobody. He calls us to be shepherds, to be nobodies.
    I like the idea of our virtual church being the Brady Bunch, “that these broods would somehow form a family, that’s the way we all became the Brady Bunch”. Lots of families…virtual, un-bodied, but still giving each other grace, support, and a hard time, all over the internet. To be the Brady Bunch is a pretty positive thought for our church.
    I reflect that our Christian church came about in a time of plagues in the Roman Empire. There is a wonderful article in The Atlantic,
    https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/03/plagues-roman-empire/473862/
    which describes these times. Specifically, these 3 paragraphs that I quote;

    “Because the 3rd century was a crucial time of growth and definition for the early Christian church, the Plague of Cyprian came to take on a deep spiritual meaning for pagan and Christian alike.

    For Bishop Cyprian, the plague that came to bear his name was hard proof of the superiority of Christianity over traditional Roman religion. Seeing the pestilence as an opportunity to put their most deeply-held beliefs into action, early Christians beatifically set about caring for the sick and giving proper burials to the dead.

    On the other side of the religious divide, the pagan establishment was overwhelmed with fear. Traditionally, Roman priests interpreted epidemics as a sign of displeasure from the gods. Evidence in the form of new iconography on coins and references to extraordinary state-organized sacrifices suggests that the Plague of Cyprian was no different. As Harper notes, sources agree that, “the epidemic undermined the social fabric of pagan society” while “the orderly response of the Christian community, especially in the burial of the dead, presented a stark contrast.”

    Our Christian church was born into the fear of plague and pandemic. How we worship SHOULD change as our needs as human beings change, but what will never change is the love our Lord has for us, or the devotion we all share towards Him.

    Thanks for a great devotion, PR!

  2. And thank you, Brendan, for a great devotional response! I’ll check out the Atlantic article, too. It is oft times too heady for me to grasp, but with your framing comments, I may be able to handle it! Thank you for your words and your spirit of hope! ~~PR

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