"You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink.
The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance."
1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 25-16The Message (MSG)
Entering Into Exuberance.
There are vast differences between the North Shore and Cayo Belize, where our Impact mission team spent last week. Everything is different: lifestyle, culture, community, climate, landscape, diet, education, vocation, language, socioeconomic status, opportunity, even freedom... everything is different. Except for some "nice" houses peppered throughout the landscape, all of which pale in comparison to what we are accustomed to, homes in Cayo are minuscule, often plywood or clapboard or any combination of materials that might provide shelter. Many are without water or electricity and a good number with modern "conveniences" had rickety makeshift connections - a wire strung from the neighbor's house, a hose from the neighbor's tap. Most house multiple family members in one or two rooms. Everything smells funny. Everything is dirty or muddy or both.
So it could be assumed that a group from Kenilworth Union Church might struggle to find things in common with people who live such different lives. We could not talk about sports, or what restaurant we want to try or what band is coming to town. We could not talk about classes or making the varsity team or the new Pilates instructor at the gym. We could not talk about the stock market, the latest Fast and Furious movie or the newest Nikes. We could not talk about how well (or poorly) we did on the ACTs, what colleges we are applying to or going to. Nope. None of it would matter or even make sense.
Yet conversation was rich and plentiful and connections quickly blossomed into irresistible fondness and affection. A conversation I had on the first day stood out as an example of how God led us to exuberance last week. The conversation was with a stay-at-home mother of three whose house we were helping repair. She began by telling me how she drinks plenty of water and sometimes adds chia seeds to her water for more nutrition. She walks and runs on a local track every morning at 5 am and has a group workout with friends after. She cut soda from her diet and eats mostly vegetables now. She lost 30 of her 190 pounds and feels strong and better than ever and is determined to continue this path to better health. She wants her husband to bring home a truck tire so she can add tire-flipping to her workout routine. I felt so connected to where she was coming from and so admired her efforts to live a healthier life despite zero financial resources. "See?" God showed me. "You are not so different" and "Everything is possible".
Our group connected over many many more conversations with each other and with many hundred Belizeans. We talked about God and life. About health and family. About love and hope. Despite unfamiliar and uncomfortable conditions and unfamiliar food, despite being among strangers in a foreign country, despite doubts about the Bible and about God and even doubts about each other, our team entered into palpable exuberance. God showed us that we are one body and that God's plan is precisely for us to dwell in the love of this reality.
The photo sums it up. Two people from different worlds who would otherwise maybe never think to talk to one another or even know of each other's existence are sharing a moment of exuberance. A sacred connection. A deep understanding that we are all a part of God's body.