The Body of Christ
Old Testament Reading- Daniel 7:1-3
New Testament Reading- Ephesians 1:11-23
By Henry J. Rafferty CP -November 7, 2021
We are the body of Christ, His Church. We often forget that, thinking that the Church is a place that we go, instead of something in which we are a part. The Church, like our own body has a head, it is the part that thinks, guides, and animates the rest of the parts of the body. Without our head, the rest of our body is not able to function, but our head also needs our body to sustain and carry our head. It is a partnership; one cannot function without the other.
The Church is very similar. Jesus Christ is the head of the Church; He is its creator, its sustainer, and its planner. We, the believers, are the body of Christ, the Church; we make up its parts, we are His missionaries, His helpers in this world. We take the message and the plan of the Head, Jesus Christ, to the rest of the world. It is a partnership too, but a little different than the human body, as Christ does not require our participation for any other reason of His own, but that He desires to be in fellowship with us and wants us to partner with Him to bring others to Him for salvation. In this partnership, we become better people, more like our Creator, in our daily walk of faith.
One thing we also need to remember is that we were not originally created as mortals, God created us in His image, and we were not intended to die. After original sin and our separation from God; we are now faced with death but are given the opportunity for a journey. A journey that doesn’t have to end in death, but may lead to life eternal, just as God intended. God’s original plan is still in place; that we are to be with Him for all time, and not in death, but in life. God is not dead, He is alive. He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. Christ is not dead but risen and alive again. When Jesus appeared to His disciples He said, “Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” (Luke 24:39) He then goes on to tell them that He is going to prepare a place for them, and that where He is, there they shall be also. This is very important for all of us as believers, as a part of the Church, that where our head goes, where Jesus goes, there we shall be also and in like manner.
Today, we commemorate All Saint’s in Christ. We honor all that have gone on life’s journey and have passed on through death to a new life beyond in heaven. These are our brothers and sisters in faith, just as much a part of the body of Christ, the Church, as we are. Imagine, all believers from all of creation, in every generation from the dawn of time until now, all still members of the body of Christ. 1 John 3:1-3 tells us,
"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.”
What a wonderful blessing to be a part of such a group of people that God loves as His own children.
It is very important that we understand that this time and space that we occupy now is not all that we are living and striving for, but this is only the beginning, a very short span of time in eternity. We often don’t speak a lot on our eternal importance, as we have enough on our plates with just what we have to do here and now. Also, we have a limited capacity, because of sin, to really grasp all that God has in store for those He loves. When the Apostle John was given his visions about the end times, he wrote down in Revelation 7:9-17 the following,
“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. ‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,’ nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”
In our Old Testament reading today the prophet Daniel sees a troubling vision of future events that disturbed him greatly. The rise and fall of nations and the kings of the earth and all that these visions stood for was more than Daniel could bear, but the end result was what mattered most, the holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and possess it forever. We forget that God has a plan that is not yet fulfilled, but is always in motion towards its end, an end that involves each and every one of us. The Apostle John tells us more of his vision in Revelation 21:1-6,
“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.”
In today’s New Testament reading, Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:11-14,
“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”
Our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior joins us with the faithful of all ages, the Church Universal. The very multitudes that John saw in his vision that are washed and purified by the blood of Christ.
It is on this day of commemoration that we remember our brothers and sisters that have passed on this past year to the next life, and who have joined the multitudes of other believers that make up the body of Christ. It has been a pleasure to have shared in this life with all of them. Paul says it best in his letter to the Ephesians 1:18-23,
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”
How blessed we all are to be part of the fullness of Christ. Thank you, Father, for allowing us the pleasure of knowing all those you have taken to yourself this year. Thank you, Almighty God, that this passing is not our good-bye, but just, till we meet again. Thanks be to God. Amen.