The Body of Christ in the Mobius Strip
Why did the chicken cross the Möbius Strip? To get to the same side! (ba dum…ch) The Möbius Strip does not provide us with a solid foundation for a humorous joke, but it does provide the launching pad for a discussion on the Body of Christ. First, we must figure out what in the world is a Möbius Strip? It is according to the Webster’s Dictionary “a continuous closed surface with only one side; formed from a rectangular strip by rotating one end 180 degrees and joining it with the other end”. (If you have a computer available, here is a link to a crash course lesson on the Möbius Strip and some fun experiments: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVsIAa2XNKc) .
These types of strips have been used in many different applications since they were discovered independently by the German mathematicians August Ferdinand Möbius and Johann Benedict Listing in 1858. A model can easily be made:
1. Cut about a two-inch wide strip of paper from your full sheet and lay it out in front of you so that the long side of the paper is laying horizontally.
2. Write the letter “A” at the top-left corner of this strip, the letter “B” at the bottom-left corner, the letter “C” at the top-right corner, and the letter “D” at the bottom-right corner.
3. Hold the strip of paper in front of you. Now twist it one-half a turn so that the letters “A” and “B” on the left still face you but the letters “C” and “D” on the right now face away from you.
4. Bring the two short edges of your twisted strip together and tape them to make one long twisted loop. Corner “B” should match up with corner “C” and corner “A” should match up with corner “D”.
The Strip can then be cut into an endless amount of smaller strips and when you would think it would fall into broken rings you are wondrously surprised to find it continues in one endless strand. Giant Möbius strips have been used as conveyor belts that last longer because the entire surface area of the belt gets the same amount of wear, and as continuous-loop recording tapes. Möbius strips are also common in the manufacture of fabric computer printer ribbons, as they allow the ribbon to be twice as wide as the print head while using both halves evenly. These are all great ways that we have used Möbius strips to make things easier and more efficient for our use. But, the greatest example of the Möbius strip comes to us from the Founder of all things, God Himself, Who shares the greatest example of the Möbius strip with us in the Church.
The Church is the Body of Christ, a Divine-human communion of God and His people. The sole head of the Church is Jesus Christ Himself, the Grand Offerer and Offering. We view the Church as a mystical organism, not as a group of like or similar thinking people. In the Church is the community where man is what he is created to be and can grow for eternity in divine life in communion with God. The unity of the Church is not broken by time or space and is not limited merely to those alive upon the earth. The unity of the Church is the unity of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son & Holy Spirit) and of all of those who live with God: the holy angels, the righteous dead, and those who live upon the earth according to the commandments of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. The preceding statements form together the perfect illustration of a Möbius Strip, a never-ending truth or fact which is seemingly broken but never divided.
This goes to say that your Church and my Church are both bodies of Christ in themselves. But, each of our Churches composed together also forms the Body of Christ. This means the fullness of the Church is both contained within the Body of Christ and also composes the Body of Christ. This is a logical Möbius Strip in that no matter how many strands one is cut into it will always remain a continuous strand. It is an unbreakable strand that composes itself and is composed within itself which fits to our understanding of the Body of Christ. This is also the reason that the contoured shape of the Möbius Strip has been used as the symbol of infinity. It should also come as no surprise, that our Lord Jesus Christ, refers to Himself as the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end!
We are given the best example of the Oneness of the Body of Christ even when broke into seeming pieces in the celebration of the central action of the Church. Remember, that every action and every movement during the Divine Services have great lessons and meanings behind them, though in most cases these meanings remain hidden behind the mystical mystery of the Church. The offering of the Holy Eucharist during Divine Liturgy offers us this most perfect of examples. The priest prays the following prayer when preparing to offer the Gift of the Lamb of God in the form of the Bread resting on the diskos at every Divine Liturgy. He says: “The Lamb of God is broken and distributed, broken, but not divided, ever-eaten, yet never consumed, but sanctifying those who partake of it”. The priest then breaks the “Lamb” into pieces so that we are each able to receive a bit of the Eucharist for ourselves. But, even though the piece we may receive is small it still holds within it the fullness of the Body of Christ, the fullness of Christ Himself. No matter how many small pieces it is cut into, if we think of the image of the Möbius Strip it still contains the fullness within itself because it is continuously offered and available to us. It is truly the Gift which continues to give.
The Body of Christ provides for us an eternal spring of nourishment for our souls as we continue through this life. As we have said earlier, the unity of the Church is not broken by time or space. The services we participate in are timeless gifts from God through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. Let us continue to enter into the “joy of the Lord” as often as we can in hopes that we will one day find ourselves united into the completeness of the Body of Christ with all the saints. We are created in God’s image and our goal is to return to Him with this image intact, in other words we must like the chicken on the Möbius Strip strive to get back to the same side, though our goal is the side of Christ and His Church through our mystical and whole union with the Body of Christ. Science helps us see the path and the Lord guides our way.