Paul’s metaphor of the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians and Romans 12 is a powerful image for thinking about repentance as turning to others in community. Paul lifts up the varieties of gifts and perspectives that are all valued and needed for the community, reminding us that we are all important, all needed, all essential.
There is no such thing as being a Christian alone: We are part of a body. Turning to God naturally turns us to others because our health, our joy, our freedom and our very lives are bound up together. Lutheran churches have a tradition of confessing sins aloud together in part to recognize that the sin of an individual always affects the whole body.
This liturgical act of repentance as ‘turning to others’ is repeated or perhaps completed, as we share the peace. It provides not only a chance to exchange friendly greetings, but also an opportunity to resolve conflicts–to give and received forgiveness. Where our relationships remain strained or broken, it can be nearly impossible for us to freely and joyfully offer our gift’ to God–or to anyone else.
This message is excerpted from the Bible study “Turning to others” by Meghan Johnston Aelabouni in the October issue of Gather magazine. Today is the sixth Sunday after Epiphany.
Do you enjoy these free Daily Grace messages? If so, donate now to further the ministry.