D-Day invasion, June 6, 1944; the view from the air.
From Surprised By Jesus, by Tim Stafford, 2006, pages 236-237.
(As a church) we are flawed, but together we are also the body of Christ. We are bigger than any individual, bigger than any nation or culture. We transcend East and West, North and South. We are a billion hands and feet. The church is an enormous fact brimming with life…, a vast varied congregation in every nation and tongue.
…I listened to Stephen Ambrose’s book D-Day on a recent car trip. In spellbinding detail Ambrose chronicles the massive planning and preparation of the invasion of Normandy in the Second World War. Ambrose interviewed many soldiers who were there, and he offers their perspective.
Often they experienced screw-ups. Cockamamied plans went predictably wrong. Bombs were dropped miles off target. Men landed at the wrong place at the wrong time and with the wrong equipment. Many died tragically through their own fellow soldiers’ mistakes. Landing craft got off course and stuck on sandbars. Some were destroyed by German artillery before they could even reach the beach. Many men who reached shore couldn’t find their unit, and those who did were often bereft of equipment to do the assignments they had been trained for. Seen from the battlefront, the scene was confusion, blood, and terror. Many officers were sure that the invasion had failed, for all they saw was calamity.
From above, however, the view was different. Pilots looking down saw wave after wave of ships and planes in magnificent array (and then the beach secured and the army advancing). The local scene might be chaos, but the greater outlook was filled with hope of final victory. As events would show, the view from above was the accurate perspective, offering far better clues to the truth than the view closer to the action.
So for us. The wider our view of the church, the more likely we will understand the resurrection life that has begun.
The church may often seem weak and foolish compared to a political faction, a skilled lobby, or a well-organized nonprofit organization. Jesus’ church, however, demonstrates qualities they cannot touch, such as worship, proclamation of the gospel of peace, and sacrificial love. Our strength lies in doing what is valuable in Jesus’ sight. Our glory will be revealed on the day of the Lord Jesus.
We who follow Jesus are tangible evidence of ‘the kingdom come.’ We are a movement that Jesus carefully constructed, shaping it from his own family of historical Judaism. This is no mushroom, popping up on the fringes of culture. It is more like a redwood tree, growing from a sliver of green into something rooted and massive and full of life.
I Corinthians 12:27 — You are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
I Peter 2:9-10 — You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
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.
Most gracious Father,
we pray to you for your holy Church.
Fill it with all truth;
in all truth with all peace.
Where it is corrupt, purge it.
Where it is in error, direct it.
Where anything is amiss, reform it.
Where it is right, strengthen and defend it.
Where it is in want, provide for it.
Where it is divided, heal it and reunite it in your love;
for the sake of your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.
–William Laud (1573-1645), Archbishop of Canterbury