The Extraordinary Body

Published: Monday, 25 January 2016

This sermon was given by Keren McClelland at Ashburton Baptist Church on 24 January, 2016.

foodBible Reading: Corinthians 12: 12 – 31

Today we are going to zoom in on the human body, put it under the microscope…

(Video on biomes…0-1.40 minute)

“the human body is an entire eco-system unto itself so this is a new frontier - inner space

inner space is as complex a phenomenon as outer space”

ABC catalyst august 2014

(there are two important episodes to watch)

There are many microbes in our gut…

A gymnast, Gideon Cordover, and the presenter Dr. Graham Phillips go head to head in a dietary challenge. Gideon 24 trains regularly but eats a diet low in fibre, high in processed foods. Graham, in his 50’s, had eliminated dairy and wheat and eats a high fibre diet.

They do blood tests before and after a meal of junk food…

Professor Katherine Samaras

I do. And I think what's really interesting is that we really tested out how your body copes with the stress of having some junk food. You had a perfectly appropriate glucose response, and the triglycerides rose, as we would expect, but didn't rise too much, as can happen. Now, I would expect with both of you being fit, young, healthy weight people...

Dr Graham Phillips

Young! I'm young too, eh, see?

Professor Katherine Samaras

We're all young. We're all young. But where things differed is the amount of insulin that was required to give you that normal metabolic response. And, Gideon, essentially you needed two to three times as much insulin to keep the glucose and triglyceride levels as normal as they were compared to Graham's.


The news was a big surprise for Gideon.

Gideon Cordover

I actually, you know, came in here with some confidence, thinking, 'I'll be fine, I'm half of Graham's age.' Or maybe a third. I don't know.

Dr Graham Phillips

Yeah, right. Thanks.

Gideon Cordover

But this is a huge shock to me and quite nerve-racking. Mmm….

But how would Gideon's gut bacteria be after his four-week high-fibre diet? Well, his results showed more good bacteria and a greater diversity. To see if that translated to better health, we gave him another fast food challenge and remeasured his bloods.

Dr Graham Phillips

So, you've got Gideon's new results. How did he go?

Professor Katherine Samaras

I do, and I want to know how you did it because the results are spectacular.


Gideon's blood sugars, fats and insulin response were vastly improved.

Professor Katherine Samaras

What was amazing for me was how much less insulin you needed. It took half the amount of insulin to clear the same amount of carbohydrate out of your system as it did the first time round. So everything is working so much better. How did you do it?

A person can directly influence their gut’s micro culture by eating a food high in fibre, with a high proportion of simple vegetables and legumes and avoiding saturated fats and highly processed foods.

The less processed the better.


(image from here more of interest on microbiome)

The type of bacteria in the gut influences the risk of heart disease,

diabetes, mental health problems, auto-immune diseases, asthma, multiple sclerosis…

It is also possible to look pretty good on the surface and yet have serious health problems lurking inside.

Watching some tennis this week reminds me also

the human body is breathtaking

as is the church,

the body of Christ.

This complex body

is at its best when

respectful of diversity

each of us is contributing to a greater good…

God has carefully designed the body

so that every member has its place.

Each one has its own job

which God has given it

for the sake of the whole body

and without it the body would be disabled.

What is your job?

what are you good at?

Without you doing your job we are disabled.

What are the best gifts

you have to offer at this time and stage in your life?

Understanding how we contribute

is the key to a healthy identity…

Is our role protective (white cells, skin)?

filtering information (kidneys)?

healing (platelets),

providing energy (red blood cells, gut) as encouragers,

passing on information (nervous system)

or a combination of many different functions

Without you we cannot be at our best

Each person here has a unique mix of strengths and wisdom

Like an elite athlete

we are at our peak performance

when the whole body is in shape

when everyone participates and has the chance to exercise their gifts

carefully designed……..

This guarantees that

each of you have a valued place,

but it should also remind you not to get too full of yourselves.

No one member can go it alone

and if one group tried to limit membership of the body

to their own kind,

the body would fall apart in no time.

It takes all different kinds

to make a healthy and whole body.

........The way God has arranged the human body, then,

is a good model for how the Church is to function.

Those members who might never do anything that catches anyone’s attention should be valued and honoured,

for they are as much a part of the body as anyone else

and you’d probably only notice how important

their contribution was if they quit.

In your body the parts don’t turn on each other.

So too in Christ’s body

all the members are to work cooperatively

and to look after each other’s interests.

If you break your leg, your whole body suffers.

So too, if one member is hurting

the whole body needs healing.

If one member is honoured,

the whole body basks in the glory.’’

Jesus' actions, too, were remarkably affirming of the physical.

Jesus placed the healing of people's bodies,

broken, fragile, suffering

at the centre of his ministry;

not necessarily the rich or powerful

but the widowed, the orphaned, the stranger, the social outcast.

Pastoral care we understand in terms of prayer and listening

The gift of a simple healthy meal,

or company on a walk

is a really valid way of caring for the physicality of the body.

Rowan Williams’ expression on why bodies are important has been really helpful for me, for why matter matters…

“the body is the place I meet God…”

That means the meals we eat

and the exercise we give our bodies

are just as important as a lively prayer life

Bodies matter to God--all bodies, not only those beautiful and full of life but also those damaged, violated, starving, dying; and not only those of humankind but also those of the rest of creation. (Elizabeth Johnson)

Jesus healed people through feeding them!

Large crowds and small dinner parties,

host at weddings and companion to the marginalised.

Jesus is generous host and table companion

his presence was so compelling because

people knew his concern to

heal their heartache

satisfy their hunger

hunger for real sustenance,

hunger to belong,

hunger to be heard and touched.

Bodies matter

Both as the place we meet God and as the most profound metaphor for how we are to relate to one another...

Whatever your nationality,

and whatever your occupation or background,

you all tap into the one Spirit for your life,

just as all the cells in the body are nourished in the same way through their relationship to the whole.

As part of the global church we are

living cells of the resurrected Christ.

The mark of this ‘citizenship’

is not a flag or logo

but baptism…

When we were baptised, we became part of Christ’s body.

The Holy Spirit integrated us all into this one body and so now we are first and foremost identified with the body,

rather than with our individual characteristics.


Together then, you are the body of Christ, and individually you are members of it.

God has given you each your own job and the whole body depends on you to do it. It might look like some parts matter more than others

you know how it is, apostles get the most attention, and then coming down a rung at a time you find the preachers, the teachers, the wonder workers, the healers, the helpers, the administrators, and those who can pray in strange languages - but the popularity ladder actually tells you no more about the reality of the body than looking at someones make-up and clothing can tell you about the functioning of their internal organs.

What sort of body would we be if everyone was an apostle? Or a preacher? Or a teacher? If everyone had exactly the same gifts and abilities, the body couldn’t  function at all.

So, by all means seek to develop your gifts and acquire new ones, but dont make the mistake of thinking youre a nobody if you dont have the big ticket ones.

Paraphrased text of 1 Corinthians 12 taken from Nathan Nettleton

ABC Catalyst Gut Part 2 at this link.

UN year of pulses 2016.