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We Need the Church

Originally published Monday, 05 March 2018.

I recently read about Martin Luther and the ways he depended upon the church body in his life. He often battled intense physical pain and depression. There were times he was in so much pain he thought he would die. In those instances, he relied upon his community—the communion of saints—to help him. They prayed for him. They preached the gospel to him when he couldn't preach it to himself. They walked with him in his suffering. He relied on and rested in the truth of our union with Christ and one another. As he wrote, "When we feel pain, when we suffer, when we die, let us turn to this, firmly believing and certain that it is not we alone, but Christ and the church who are in pain and suffering and dying with us."

As I reflected on this and our great need for one another in the church, I wrote this poem:

One Body, the Church

When my heart is heavy and tears flowing
and my world is fast twirling and spinning
When all I have is ripped out of my hands
and I'm sucked into a Job-like quicksand
When I'm hurt and broken and filled with doubt
and all I've known is twisted inside out

You are there

When accusing voices echo in my head
reminding me of what I've thought, done, and said
When the temptation to sin is far too great
and my desires snap at each and every bait
When I hate and despise everything I do
and feel so worthless, wretched, shameful, and untrue

You are there

When I'm hungry, thirsty, and need a bed
as the bills pile higher and above my head
When there's no work and no way I can live
and my hands are empty with nothing to give
When I'm weary, hopeless, and in great need,
stricken by circumstances that won't recede

You are there

When the door of blessing opens up wide
and life's joys are found waiting there inside
When God answers my heart's deepest cries
and heals, blesses, and provides
When my longings are granted and dreams come true,
my work prospers and all I have is new

You are there

We are woven together, each strand knit tight
My hurts are your hurts, my joys your delight
There's no shock when I confess guilt and sin
You remind me of grace working within
All my needs you meet with love and care
Walking beside me, my burdens you bear

Because you are always there

Christ is our King, our Master, our Head
We are his Body, by him we are led
United by his blood shed for our sin
We are family, yet unlike other kin
Our union will long outlast the sun
as we live forever, worshipping the risen Son

Forever the church...you are there