For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body– Jews or Greeks, slaves or free– and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.
(1 Corinthians 12:12-14)
The stunning sight of sunflower fields in full bloom greets travelers passing along area roadways. The bright yellow heads follow the sun’s path as it moves through the sky.
By Pastor Renee Johnson
I’ve been noticing that some days all the heads are turned the same way. The effect transforms the field into a solid mass of yellow all lifted up and looking in the same direction. This is when the field is at its most stunning. It presents a uniform, strong mass of full, yellow heads.
Other times not all the heads face the same direction. Some aim east while others look south or west. There are open spots in the midst of all the yellow faces. Sometimes the sunflowers are a little droopy, needing another shower of rain to nourish and replenish them. Other times, particularly on the gray days, some of the heads bow low, bent over and unable to lift their faces to the sky. And some of the sunflowers lay on the ground, bent low, no longer standing with the others but still present, still part of the field.
The sunflower field reminds me of the Church—the whole Church, the whole body of Christ. We are at our best, our strongest when we stand together, all eyes on the Son, sharing our unity in Christ with one another and the world. But we’re not always at our best, are we? Sometimes faces turn away from Christ; we lose or shift our focus. We’re still there, still part of the body, but there is an emptiness, the face that was lifted to Christ is missing.
Sometimes we droop. Without regular nourishment, without regular worship, prayer and scripture study we grow weary and wilt in our lives in Christ. When we don’t tend to our spiritual lives, intentionally seeking renewal and refreshment, we grow weak and, like the sunflowers, become more vulnerable to those things that kill and destroy and separate us from God.
And finally, the image of yellow sunflower heads resting on the ground, still part of the field but no longer standing upright, remind me of the saints who have gone before us. The body of Christ, we confess in the creeds, includes the whole communion of saints—believers of the past age, the present age and the age to come. And, to continue the allegory a little farther, we all await the coming harvest. We await the time when Christ will raise us up and carry us to our eternal home.
We are the body of Christ. Each of us is an important part of the whole. Each of us is different but we stand together, lifting our faces to the Lord, drawing our strength from Him. Our witness to the world and our unity come when our focus remains firmly fixed on Jesus the Christ. What are you focused on today?
In grace and peace,