Missing Parts

I have been thinking about investing. Our time, our energy, our money. Who invested in me? I fondly remember walking properties in the Northwest, listening to my grandfather describe the importance of a reliable water source- a deep well, a natural spring that never dried up. We clambered through construction sites, learning how to translate rough framing into bathrooms, doorways, and imagined bedrooms.

Who invested in you? Took the time to teach you how to cook, or sat with you through schoolwork. Perhaps someone helped with student loans, the down payment on your first house, or set up your Roth IRA. Depending on our resources, we impart different gifts to those we love to equip them. 

Christ is just like the human body—a body is a unit and has many parts; and all the parts of the body are one body, even though there are many. 1 Corinthians 12:12 (CEB)

After recording Joining the Journey, I was thinking about how the metaphor falls apart in America. Progressive white-majority churches, particularly(?) evangelical groups, welcomed African-Americans to join them. Us. Like college promotional photos, we sought a balanced image of black, white, and occasional others.

But those well-intentioned efforts came up short, or sometimes, failed miserably. The 2016 election and its aftermath magnified the cracks in the family photograph. Austin Channing Brown’s book I”M STILL HERE is about the Church. She writes of being a Black woman, cultivated for leadership in white, middle-class, Evangelical America. 

Reading it, I thought New Covenant did better. Maybe. Or we did differently. Defensiveness gets us nowhere.

So I find it helpful to think about investments. Who are the African-Americans who invested in New Covenant over the years? In choosing to join a white church, what sacrifices did they make to sit with us? They were unpaid diversity instructors, giving their time and their lives to help bring us along. 

But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the part with less honor so that there won’t be division in the body and so the parts might have mutual concern for each other. 1 Cor 12:24b-25a (CEB)

Nowadays, we are knit together by viral connections and climate impact without borders. I don’t see people in south Champaign, let alone South Africa. So the question of Who is my Neighbor? has become more broad, and more narrow. We need both.

I want to invest in the future. Our children in CU, Chicago, the Mississippi Delta. And I am reminded of the return on investment for those who gave of themselves to make NCF who we are. How do we give back, or repay? Did we acknowledge that initial investment, and how can we distribute the return?

If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part gets the glory, all the parts celebrate with it. You are the body of Christ and parts of each other. 1 Cor 12:26-27 (CEB)

Right now, we are feeling the suffering of many parts. And we are missing each other, scattered as we are. I long for the time when all the parts can celebrate together. Perhaps one step toward that is to give some glory where it is due. To thank those hidden parts for their contributions of time and presence, the gifts of their very lives. 

May the seeds that have been invested in us, hidden in the ground, spring to life and yield a great harvest that will feed many. -Renée
Service 9/13: Joining the Journey
Order of Service 9/13
Bulletin 9/13

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