The Spiritual Body of Christ
By: Rev. Greg Batson
The Jews then said to him, "What sign can you show us for doing this?" Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." The Jews then said, "This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?" But he was speaking of the temple of his body. (John 2:18-21)
Our faith is intimately connected to the places where we worship. I have been a part of seven different United Methodist congregations across the United States. Each sanctuary has been unique in location and style, from a simple A-frame in a field in Georgia to a Byzantine cathedral in mid-town Manhattan. Yet as different as they have been in physical structure, they have all profoundly influenced my life. Architecture does impact our understanding and experience of faith.
Of course, it wasn't the building that contained the Spirit, but the people who comprised the congregation. It's the shared relationships that breathes life into us. From childhood and youth to adulthood, it's our brothers and sisters in Christ who guide us into who we are today.
The Temple in Jerusalem was one of the great architectural wonders of the world. People of faith from all over the Ancient Middle East made a pilgrimage to worship there. When Jesus entered it and disrupted its daily routine, people were shocked: the Temple was the center of religious life for Judaism. Yet it would be destroyed by the Romans in 67 CE, and community worship would be dispersed to local synagogues.
Even though the physical Temple would be destroyed, the spiritual temple known as the Body of Christ would be raised in the death and resurrection of Jesus. We have continued that tradition for two thousand years through the Sacrament of Holy Communion, the sacred meal that binds us together as a community of faith. When we share the bread and the cup, we share the body and blood of Christ, and are united. Wherever you are in whatever place, remember that you are always part of that fellowship.