“. . . God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” –1 Corinthians 12:24-27
This past Sunday, Matt and I spent our last morning service with our church. We have never before in our walk with Christ encountered a body of believers like this one. We became one with this body the moment that we arrived, almost 6 years ago. At the time, the church was a small family of 30 or so members, but it has since more than doubled in size, and yet it remains close. The Bible talks of the early churches sharing their possessions, breaking bread together, and dividing responsibilities. All the churches that I’ve ever been involved with before are places where you show up, socialize, listen to the sermon, and head home, grateful for a little interaction but otherwise unencumbered by personal details. Rejoice is different. Even from our first few Sundays, Linda hugged me as I walked in to tell me how glad she was to see me. Joe reminded me every week that he was praying me through medical school (then internship, and then residency). After working several weekends in a row, Steve called to see how things were going for me at the hospital and to tell me that I was missed. These people are dear to me. The congregation prayed daily for my leukemic patient in the ICU, for the residents, attendings, nurses and floor staff when we lost 4 kids in the same week, for each of my licensing exams. Even as Matt and I endured the process of finding new jobs and settling on a new place to live, I knew they were praying for God’s leading, for our patience, and for peace to fill me. Peace certainly did fill me through the process . . . most of the time. Several of my coworkers commented that I seemed oddly calm for not having a job, even as May approached. I credit my creator with working out the details and answering prayer, but I am so thankful for a family who has prayed faithfully for me. Matt and I were talking today about the Kubler-Ross Stages of Grief. He’s still in denial that we’ll ever really leave. I think that I’m a little further in the process. I’ve cried just thinking about moving for months. I had a period of panic over moving to Syracuse. The day of my interview for a job here in Columbia, I finally realized that there was no way that we were staying here. I spent that weekend angry that I couldn’t make the world work the way that I wanted and anticipating this separation from this family. Now I think I’m bargaining. I keep telling myself that we’re not really that far from Columbia, so we’ll be in town all the time for short visits. I know the reality is different. I suppose I still have depression and acceptance to look forward to. I suppose I should stop thinking about our situation as being traumatically cut off from our body of believers, but consider it more like a transplant. Eventually, we’ll settle in.