Have you ever heard of Ruth and Verena Cady? I hadn't until I read a reference to them in a Max Lucado book, and then followed up with some judicious Googling...
For those who haven't read about them previously, they were twins, born in 1984… and like many sisters and particularly twins, they shared everything… they shared the same womb before they were born and the same room afterwards… they even shared the same bed every night… they shared the same toys… even sharing one trike between them… But it went further than with most sisters or even twins, because Ruthie and Verena’s bodies were fused together from their sternum to the waist… Though they had different brains and nervous systems and distinctive personalities they were sustained by a single, three-chambered heart and the food that came from a single intestine… They were literally inseparable because one could not survive without the other… and if truth be told when they were born the doctors didn’t think they would survive at all!
But they did… although only for 7 years… But in those 7 years they learned to work together and others learned so much from them… For example, when it came to walking, their parents thought that they might take turns at walking forwards or backwards, or that one might dominate the other and always force the other to walk backwards… but no… instead they learned to walk sideways, almost like they were dancing… Dancing in the same direction…
They were conjoined… but very different people with wildly different personalities and preferences. Ruthie was more artistic… Verena more practical… They took turns in choosing what to do each day, and they learned to make up for each other’s weaknesses… Verena loved her food… while Ruthie got bored with eating and would rather watch TV or read a book… So Verena did most of the eating for the both of them… Also Ruthie had more of a temper than Verena and would sometimes throw things (including bowls of food that she wasn't interested in eating…) But they learned very quickly that what one did had consequences for both of them, when they both had to sit on the naughty step.
As they got older their single malformed heart was unable to pump blood efficiently round their growing bodies, it was Verena who could see what was looming. But, ever the practical one, she planned out the funeral for her and her sister… making sure that the guest list was prepared and her family and friends all knew what was to happen.
When their death finally did come, their mother Marlene said
"Ruthie and Verena taught us so much. They were a perfect example of
sisterhood and unity. It would make a pretty neat world if we all lived the way
Not only the world has something to learn from Ruthie and Verena, the church, which is supposed to be one body, has something significant to learn.
Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus saying:
speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is
the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by
every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does
Ephesians 4:15-16 (ANIV)
While Jesus prayed for the church saying:
I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are
one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the
world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
John 17: 22-23 (ANIV)
Unity in diversity. Diversity in unity. United in the person of Christ and his purposes for the church, but diverse in our particular priorities and God-given personalities.
Working together for the Kingdom.
(An exerpt from an address this morning at the beginning of a new church session)