Imagining the Body

By Paul Cizek, Youth Minister

How might art teach us to see ourselves as members of Christ’s body?

Start with a $7.50 purchase from the Durham Scrap Exchange.

Consider: What are you good at?  What do you love to do?  What brings you great joy?  What’s your favorite color?  What color are you?  Are you more curvy or jagged?  Rough or smooth?


Trace a body, divide and cut-up the tracing, hand out pieces, and then cover your piece in a way which reflects who you are.




Now put the pieces back together, but not just next to each other.  Connect the pieces; join the pieces.  Don’t be shy!  You’re going to have to draw or paint on each other’s pieces.  Someone might tinker with yours.



Now step back and take a look.

What do you notice about the body?  What was it like to decorate your portion and then add it to the larger body?  What was it like joining the pieces together?

For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness. 

– Romans 12:4-8

This seems to be a picture of the life God is calling us into in the church.  Is this a good life?

What would the bodies look like if each piece of the body was simply checkered?  Why do you think God has made us with such a variety of gifts?

Was it comfortable integrating your piece back into the whole?  Will it be easy for us who are many and distinct to live as one?

Do we normally think of ourselves as members of Christ’s body?

“Each piece looked so weird on its own, but they don’t look weird when they’re all put together.”


Is part of the challenge to seeing ourselves as members of one body the familiarity and comfort we have with thinking of ourselves as individuals?  I’m Paul – I’m myself.  That’s Stephen over there.  There’s Corrie.  That’s Michael.  What if such statements were “weird.”  What if it just made sense to think that “we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.”

Lord, helps us see ourselves, who are many and distinct, as one body in Christ.  Cultivate in us a love for the body into which you have called us.  Amen.

A Scientist Stops By

By Paul Cizek, Youth Minister

“So who’s in a science class right now?”  All hands go up.  “What are you learning about in science class?”  Cells and cytoplasm; volcanos; egg drops from the school roof; mesosphere and stratosphere; DNA and Gregory Mendel; Physics (ugh!); evolution.  “So, what do your science classes have to do with you being a Christian.”  Nothing.  No obvious relation.  They seem totally opposite: one focuses on facts and evidence, the other on faith and belief.  Aren’t evolution and Christianity, you know… “In conflict?”  Yeah.

So, what does a science class have to do with our lives as Christians?

Our guest is JR Rigby: he’s one of the most intentional Christians I know; he’s a also a USDA scientist who studies streams and rivers in the Mississippi delta region.  Some days JR sits in the office and develops models on the computer; sometimes he plays with a long, clear-sided tank which allows him to simulate and study the effect of flowing water on different fabricated river beds; sometimes he’s out wearing rubber waders in the rivers.  At one time JR was aiming to be a musician, but JR discovered in high school and college that what was hard for his peers (math, physics) came easy for him.  Was his faith as a Christian ever in conflict with his studies?  Sure, he occasionally had professors who had a bone to pick with Christianity.  But he remembers one day asking a theology professor how a scientist could fit into the life of the church – without compromising either faith or science; the professor didn’t know, but a friendship and discerning discussion began that day.

So, what does science have to do with our lives as Christians?

For JR, his work as a scientist is an ongoing exploration of God’s creation; it’s a fascination with the streams, currents, and turbulence, which leads him to contemplate the God who created and sustains these things; it’s work which helps him respond to God’s command to humans to “tend” the creation (Gen. 2).  It’s work that – as far as JR can discern – is a faithful way to use the gifts God has given him (a mind for physics and math); it’s work that allows God’s call to all people – a call to baptism and discipleship – to ring most loud and clear in his life.

For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us.  – Romans 12:5-6a

So JR is a scientist and the body of Christ is richer and healthier because of him.  But, what gifts has God given you?  How might God be calling you to use your gifts now and in the future?   How might God’s call ring most loud and clear in your life?  We’ll begin discerning such things in the weeks to come.


By Paul Cizek, Youth Minister

Play: what a gift for our EYC!

This past Sunday, Jr. and Sr. EYC met together along with their Mentors for an evening of play.  We played a Spring season game of Whiffle Ball in the parking lot, came inside to warm up with hot chocolate and tacos, and then ended the evening with a Pictionary-type game called Anticipation.  There were winners and losers: Team Two rounded the bases and racked up many runs while Team One struggled to get a runner to third; and though Jr. Boys and Sr. Girls were clutch when it came to Anticipation, the Sr. Guys pulled out the victory.

How wonderful when the community that eats together, worships together, and grows together as Christians has a night to kick back, laugh, and play.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Real Friends

By Paul Cizek, Youth Minister

This past Sunday evening, Jr. EYC waded into the topic of friendships and forgiveness.

Have you ever been offended by a friend?  Had a fight with a friend?  Been hurt by a friend?  What happens then?  Is it over?  Does gossip erupt?  Do wounds silently fester?  And if it happens at church, how awkward to see this person week after week in our narrow halls.  Or, perhaps, maybe one of you just stops coming altogether.  Does this really happen?  Jr. EYCers could point to some concrete instances.

But what if instead of wounding, these moments became healing?  What if these moments of disillusionment were really illusion-clearing moments?  What if these moments helped us see  our friend as a sinner forgiven by Christ, and ourselves as sinners forgiven by Christ?  Might we then really mean, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”?  What if we really believed the words we prayed?  Who would we have to forgive?  Who would we have to apologize to?   Forgiving and apologizing – both really hard, our Jr. EYCers say.  Hard, no doubt, but the alternative is the end of our friendships.  Hard, no doubt, but this is the type of real friendship we’re invited to pursue in the church.

Sr. EYC then chewed on a few hearty words about friendship:

We had grown up together as boys, gone to school together, and played together.  Yet ours was not the friendship which should be between true friends, either when we were boys or at this later time.  For though they cling together, no friends are true friends  unless you, my God, bind them fast to one another through that love which is sown in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us.  Yet there was a sweetness in our friendship, mellowed by the interests we shared.

– St. Augustine, Confessions

Dear Wormwood,

I’m delighted to hear that your patient has made some very desirable new acquaintances – rich, smart, superficially intellectual, and brightly skeptical about everything in the world… No doubt he must soon realize that his own faith is in direct opposition to the assumptions on which all the conversation of his new friends is based.  I don’t think that matters much provided that you can persuade him to postpone any open acknowledgement of the fact… He will be silent when he ought to speak, and laugh when he ought to be silent.  He will assume, at first only by his manner, but presently by his words, all sorts of cynical and skeptical attitudes which are not really his.  But if you play him well, they may become his.  All mortals tend to turn into the thing they are pretending to be.  This is elementary.

– Your Affectionate Uncle, Screwtape

(C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters)

Did St. Augustine mean we couldn’t be friends with non-Christians?  We admitted he seemed to think some sort of friendship could exist with non-Christians (thank goodness!), but perhaps not “true friendship.”  Did Augustine have different types of friendships in mind?  Or, it was suggested, perhaps God must bind two people together but neither might be conscious that is God binding them together?  Possible, for sure, given the quote.  But now, what did “true friendship” really look like?

A few Mentors weighed-in: there are friends we’re honest with – about our lives and about theirs; there are friends whose life orientation towards God is similar to ours, so we can pray together and share our struggles and joys of living as Christians; there are friends who’s words and actions teach us to love God and love our neighbors better.  Is this what Augustine meant by “true friends”?  Do we have such friends?

And the Lewis quote seemed like the opposite: is it possible that our friendships change us in ways which are imperceptible to us and harmful?  Can friendships draw us away from the love of God and neighbor, without us noticing?  The thought struck a chord with the group.  As one youth noted, it’s like boiling a frog: toss a frog into boiling water and it jumps out, but put a frog in cold water, slowly turn up the heat, and the frog’s a goner.  “That’s horrible,” said another youth!  But that’s exactly what’s at stake!  True friends nudge us along towards life (sometimes unaware); other friends draw us away from God (sometimes unaware).  “Life and death” is no overstatement of what’s at stake in our friendships.

And this is why EYC’s tagline is “real life, real friends.”  It’s not just a succinct, clever, or hip phrase.  It’s descriptive of what we’re up to at EYC.  Not just “community” for the sake of “community,” or friends for the sake friends.  But friendships which orient us to God – that teach us to love God and our neighbor.

So, pray for us, pray with us, and perhaps even join us in this common pursuit of “real life, real friends.”