Thoughts from John about this morning’s service

John D1

There were two things from the final song which struck me this morning. The song  is called ‘yet not I but through Christ in me’ (a reference to  Phillipians 4:13 – ‘I can do all things through him who gives me strength.’)

The song focuses on the ways in which we are blessed by God through being ‘in,’  or ‘in union with’ Christ, and the resources to which this union with Christ gives us access.

The first of the things which struck me was the reference about standing ‘with joy before the throne’ beyond death.  Frankly, this kind of language sounds a bit boring to me – you may argue that that’s because of shallowness in me. I love the idea of saying an enthusiastic ‘yes’ to life, to joy, to God in a participatory afterlife, where there is stuff to do, challenges, opportunities to grow further, but simply standing seems less than appealing! I suspect language about ‘standing before the throne’ is highly symbolic. We just don’t know.

But sometimes Christians live utterly focussed on the next life, and see this life as something to be endured or survived.  But that’s so unhelpful a perspective! Jamie reminded us that God has a plan for us – to me that’s not so much specific things to do – I think God gives us lots of freedom to choose – but rather a way of living. Our lives filled with love, grace, goodness, joy, openness, welcome. We are called to live the new life now.  New life is not to be a theological concept, but a way of living, a way of bringing God’s kingdom to earth.

And the second phrase from the song which lingered with me was ‘through Christ in me.’ This truth lies at the heart of Christian faith and it is absolutely gobsmacking. The Christ who called the universe into being, and sustains it in its ceaseless dance; the Christ was within Jesus, making him one with God, is present in us. The breath of God’s Spirit blows through all our living. When we are open to this life-giving breath, to the water of life welling up in us, our words, thoughts, actions are actually expressing Christ. The resources which are available to Jesus are, through the Holy Spirit, available to us.

This is a very wonderful, and a very joyfully humbling thing: that we take Jesus out into our ordinary everyday living.  That’s what Gerard Manley Hopkins was speaking about in one of the poems I’ve chosen for tomorrow’s Rhymes Remembered:

The person who seeks justice and grace (and Hopkins uses the sexist language of his time:

……keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

Do you see what the poet is saying? We are so identified with Christ, that God sees as as ‘little Christ’s’ and when we say ‘Yes’ to the life and to the Father of Life it is Christ who speaks through us.

The challenge is to express the wonder of this in our mundane, stressful, ordinary lives.  It is ‘though Christ is me’ that the Father sees the loveliness of Christ in us.

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