Most of us have wandered along beaches, picking up pretty shells and stones, marveling at their beauty and variety. Most get tossed away; sometimes they go into a pocket. Over the years, a few pretty pebbles have not only made it back to our home, they have even ended up stacked, cairn-like, on the windowsill over the sink in the kitchen, reminding us of happy times in the past, small prayers of gratitude and reflection.
Then we started picking up larger stones, some almost brick size, that we placed variously in the garden, marking them as to where we found them: Rogue River Valley, Green Mountains, Blue Ridge, and the like. They were easier to carry in our car than in our luggage, but they kept coming, some pink, some mottled, some glistening white. Some were riverbank smooth, others mineshaft rough. We imagine the conundrums facing a future geologist trying to determine where they came from and how they got there.
Their very diversity is their beauty. Formed separately under great pressure, they now lie beside each other belonging to a new community, part of a single garden, pieces in a random distribution, each unique, yet each a piece in a greater whole. We, too, are each unique, sharing our places with others whose appearance and experience may be different, yet we are each parts of a greater unity. Our diversity makes us stronger as people, richer in our connections, wiser in our choices, and more compassionate in our actions. Though we are many, at St. John’s we worship as one.
1 Corinthians 12:4-12: Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. 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.
Appointed readings for today: Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Psalm 1, Luke 9:18-25