Instead, God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the less honorable, 25so that there would be no division in the body, but that the members would have the same concern for each other. 26So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.1 Corinthians 12:24b-26 (CSB)
I was drawn to a recent article with the news that scientists had discovered a previously unknown cell type within human lungs. These respiratory airway secretory (RAS) cells have regenerative qualities that may lend to future treatments for lungs damaged by smoke inhalation and other lung damage. I don’t think I am the only one surprised to learn that our modern medical researchers are still finding new parts of the body.
As often as I have read chapter 12 of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, I am never disappointed to refresh my understanding of the corporate nature of the church. Your Bible might have these translated as organs or parts, but the idea remains that we are each an integral element of a larger body, with both visible, obvious elements, as well as hidden cells, with even more discrete functions. Even with Paul’s ancient understanding of the human body, the analogy doesn’t fall short with what we are continuing to learn.
Now what does this have to do with worship… When we enter into worship, we do so as a body. Us individuals and small family units join others in what we ‘not-so-accidentally’ call corporate worship. This means that we cast aside the individuality of the self and instead praise the creator and head of the church in a chorus fit for a King. Within our worship, therefore, is an inherent plurality from start to finish: confession and forgiveness, the Lord’s Prayer, and the penultimate reflection in the Holy Communion. In fact the only individual part of worship is where we, together, confess the Creed individually.
The takeaway is this, that in corporate worship, we allow ourselves to become one body for the sake of Christ, the head – to be in the presence of God, receive His grace, praise Him – so that the body can be strengthened as a whole and the individual parts, no matter how small, can do what they need to do best: to love and serve their neighbor.