One of the blessings of living and working outside the United States is that you get to see how other people worship. During our time in Japan, Juli and I noticed the custom of our Japanese friends to stop at the front door of the church, take off their shoes, and change to slippers. It is a small thing...slippers, not shoes...but think about how wearing slippers inside of church changes the whole experience. Putting on slippers make church feel a bit more like you're "at home"...and less of an outsider. Taking off slippers when you leave makes that hasty retreat out the door at the end of the service problematic! The point is not that slippers are somehow better than shoes. They simply reflect one tiny way that the Body of Christ might be united as one...but is never uniform.
Philip Jenkins, author of books like The New Faces of Christianity and The Next Christendom, likes to talk about the amazing variety of people within the worldwide Church. I don't remember if it was in one of his books or one of his presentations (I've been blessed to experience both) but I remember him saying that there is no religion on earth with the manifold cultural expressions of one faith that we find in Christianity. St. Paul does not specify one category of differences between followers of Christ (socio-economic, cultural, etc.) but he does lead us to think that it could be some combination of categories when he writes, "We were all baptized into one body-Jews or Greeks, slaves or free" (1 Cor. 12:13). He then uses that beautiful image of the human body as a metaphor for what it means for many different members to belong to one other...and to Christ.
Remember the story of the Tower of Babel...a story which is really about the idolatry of self-worship...where the people are scattered into many nations and tongues so as to be saved from themselves (Genesis 11)? The resurrection of the crucified Christ and the first Christian Pentecost (Acts 2) is where the confusion resulting from Babel began to be restored. Jesus said about his death on a cross, "I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself" (John 12:32). Though it is always an imperfect thing on this side of eternity, the miracle of the Body...a place where many different members are given to work together as One...is that it is Christ's body. Let's receive from...and contribute to...the work of all the members of the body as our loving Lord leads us to do.