Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Christ in ourselves

Some of you will know the hymn, Brother,sister, let me serve you, which goes on to read, Let me be as Christ to you. What exactly does this mean? To find an answer, we need to look in different directions. First we need to look at Christ in ourselves as to how Christ being within us changes us, directs us, compels us.
On Monday evening I spoke of Christ in our world offering compassion, love and forgiveness as his arms are stretched on the cross. Yesterday evening I spoke of Christ in our community – breaking down barriers, inviting humanity to look to the cross as the means of salvation. Compassion, love, forgiveness, barriers broken down so that we can come in, salvation: all these are ours. They inhabit our being when we live knowing and believing and living with Christ in ourselves. As these inhabit our being, they change us, direct us and compel us – towards Christ’s heart and very self and thus towards Christ’s heart and very way.
I referred yesterday evening to Rowan Williams saying. “Mission is finding out what God is doing and joining in”. With due credit to my esteemed colleague, Mr Powell, who gave it to me, I use this quote from D T Niles, who, when speaking of the faith we follow, said “Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread”. It goes without saying, we are each beggars. We have each been shown by others where bread is to be found, and we are each called to show still others where they can find it too. This bread – the bread of life – is Christ in us.
Listen to this story from the Second World War (as recorded in the book, 'Sleeping with bread':
During the bombing raids of World War II, thousands of children were orphaned and left to starve. The fortunate ones were rescued and placed in refugee camps where they received food and good care. But, many of these children who had lost so much could not sleep at night. They feared waking up to find themselves once again homeless and without food. Nothing seemed to reassure them. Finally, someone hit upon the idea of giving each child a piece of bread to hold at bedtime. Holding their bread, these children could finally sleep in peace. All through the night the bread reminded them, "Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow."
Christ in ourselves is the gift of bread we have received and Christ in ourselves is the bread we offer. Christ in ourselves means we have been fed and Christ in ourselves means we are ourselves food. Christ in ourselves means we, as the hungry, have received, and Christ in ourselves means we, in turn, offer to feed the hungry.
Rather like the children who could not sleep, and like our ancestors, the Israelites in the desert, who collected quails and manna and trusted that they would be there again, we are given bread – the body of Christ – into our hands and this is life. The bread is placed into our hands; we must place it in the hands of others. We must do this so that they may know and have life – and live in hope for the new day.
Having looked first at how Christ within ourselves changes us, directs us, compels us. The other direction we must look is how Christ within ourselves means we are like Christ in changing others, directing others, compelling others. As we recall, Let me be as Christ to you. This might sound as though we become dictatorial – far from it. The generous, gentle, compassionate heart of God is one that provides and gives and endows – without measure and without end. Christ within ourselves – within you and me – changes others by the manner in which we treat them and speak to them. Christ within ourselves directs others towards a way of seeing, of understanding and of being that offers a new way and a new life.
I know – as we probably each do – that I fall, I fail, I stumble and I get it wrong – this goes without saying – but I go on, because Christ lives within me and he goes on. Christ has sought us out, Christ has chosen to live within us, and Christ longs for the world, like us, to choose him.
As we prepare for the Triduum Sacrum, the Three Holy Days, it is worth remembering that salvation has already been accomplished. We are already saved and we have already been shown where to find the bread of life. As we journey into these holy days, we are Christ-bearers: Christ is in our hands and our hearts. With Christ in ourselves, let us be as Christ is, light to the world. 

Brother, sister, let me serve you,
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace to
let you be my servant too.

We are pilgrims on a journey,
and companions on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.

I will hold the Christ-light for you
in the night-time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you,
speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping;
when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;
I will share your joy and sorrow
till we’ve seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven
we shall find such harmony,
born of all we’ve known together
of Christ’s love and agony.

Brother, sister, let me serve you,
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace to
let you be my servant too.

Richard A. M. Gillard, 1977

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