Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Body of Christ

The Province VIII leadership of the Daughters of the King met in retreat this past weekend. It was, as always, wonderful to be with my fellow Daughters, talking about mission and ministry, connecting as newly elected leaders in each of the dioceses. 

The retreat leader, the Rev. Nancy Frausto was a "late entry" into the slot as retreat leader. The Province VIII DOK leadership had a leader signed up and ready to go as of last summer, but circumstances beyond her control led her to have to back out at the eleventh hour. Thankfully Nancy was with me when I got the news. I looked at her and asked, "would you be willing to lead a retreat for about 36 wonderful women?" She responded enthusiastically.

I arrived on Friday, not knowing what Nancy had in mind to share with these leaders of the DOK. Separately, I prepared a Celtic Eucharist and sermon for Sunday on leadership, using as an illustration in the sermon of something I experienced while I was in Ireland back in 2007. 

On Saturday Nancy talked with the group about the fact that they were part of the body of Christ. We were given paper and colored pencils and asked to draw the part of the human body (Christ's Body) that best illustrates for us where we think our focus is as members of the DOK and as Christians.

I thought and prayed about it for a minute, and I ended up drawing a heart. 

When we were done, Nancy had us move into the Chapel with our "masterpieces," holding them close to our chests so no one else could see them, and asking us to form a large circle. She went on to ask us, as we felt comfortable and moved, to show our works of art to the others gathered, and to "build" the body of Christ on the floor of the chapel. The first person offered that she drew a foot and told us why. That piece of art went at the bottom of the large circle area, and the next woman shared an ear -- that went to where the head should be.

We went on, "building" the body of Christ. We were asked, as we were able, to stand near our pieces of art, near that part of the body we chose to draw. This went on as each of the women offered their piece of art, explaining why that body part was of importance to her, reflecting Christ's body.

The most interesting to note was the offering of one women: a cell. Nancy had never experienced this before -- and was blown away by the offering and the explanation given. We all were.

At the end, Nancy took a photo of all of us -- we moved so that we could all be seen:

Afterwards, we were told to go back into our meeting room, not touching our pieces of art. Nancy formed them into a "tighter" body:

You can see the feet and hands and other wonderful body parts: ears, eyes, hearts -- and the cell. What was interesting was that there were more hands and feet that anything else. This isn't surprising as the DOK are women of service and prayer.

When we came back, we were handed masterpieces (not our own) and were asked to write a prayer for each of these pieces of art, not knowing (necessarily) who drew them. I believe it was Rachel who wrote a comment and a prayer on mine:

I will treasure this for a very long time!

What was most amazing to me was that, in the sermon I offered on Sunday, I had put in an ending prayer over two weeks earlier. It is one that I had used before in sermons as it is one of my favorites. It couldn't have been more "perfect" for our time together, given the exercise we did on Saturday:

May the yoke of the law of God be upon your shoulder,
the coming of the Holy Spirit upon your head, 
the sign of Christ on your forehead,
the hearing of the Holy Spirit in your ears,
the smelling of the Holy Spirit in your nose,
the vision that the people of heaven have in your eyes,
the speech of the people of heaven in your mouth,
the work of the church of God in your hands,
the good of God and of the neighbor in your feet.
May God dwell in your heart,
and may you belong entirely to God.   (From the Lorica of St. Fursa)

The power of the Holy Spirit to me is this: Nancy and I hadn't talked about what we were putting together. We knew it needed to be something about leadership, but we hadn't exchanged notes or ideas. Her work was the offering of the retreat, mine was the Sunday Eucharist and sermon. Yet, separately we came up with retreat material, a Eucharistic Liturgy and a sermon that dovetailed so perfectly together. Dovetailed -- hmm -- Dove -- that's a symbol for the Holy Spirit.

I wonder as I wander around to different gatherings and retreats where else the Holy Spirit will be moving?