Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pax Christi...

I interrupt my prayer time to scribble this thought, preceded by a memory...

A few weeks ago, one of the little boys in our congregation--and all of his family more or less new believers--just after I announced the sharing of the Pax Christi among us, turned to his mother and said, "What am I supposed to do with a 'piece of Christ'?"

The phrase haunts me. You do not have to affirm Transubstantiation to believe that in the bread and wine we each of us are given a "piece of Christ" as well as the peace of Christ. But the phrase is polyvalent, for it reminds me not only of Eucharist but also of St. Paul's reminder that while we (together) "are the Body of Christ," we are individually "members of it." Which is to say we each of us are "pieces of Christ."

And so I am thinking of both discipleship and ministry. It may be that the first step, the first and on-going practice of discipleship is the imitation of Christ--going as Jesus goes, learning to see as Jesus sees, to love as Jesus loves and speak as Jesus speaks; to die as Jesus dies if it comes to that, in hopes of rising as Jesus was raised (Frederica Mathewes-Green has suggested--though these are not her exact words--that Christians are those of whom it is a compliment to say, "They never have an original thought"). But the imitation of Jesus, and also of Stephen, Paul and the saints who lived cruciform lives--all of them live with Christ's words on their lips, die with his forgiveness on their tongues--is toward this end: the imago Christi. The imitation of Christ forms us into the image of Christ

We imitate Christ until we become him--a piece of him anyway. Evangelicals have long said words to this effect: Christ has no hands but our hands, no feet but our feet; we may be the only Jesus a stranger or neighbor sees today. We are a piece of Christ, sharing the peace of Christ.

Perhaps in their own way Sacramentalists say the same thing--that the pieces of Christ received become a part of us so that we become a part of Christ, a piece of Christ's peace in the world.

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