Monday, 24 April 2017

Christ has no body but OURS

Acts 2: 14a, 22-32 (Page 910 in our pew Bibles) Peter’s speech on the day of Pentecost says that everything, even Jesus’ death was according to God’s plan as revealed in scripture
1 Peter 1: 3-9 (page 1014 in our pew Bibles) The recipients of this letter were Jews of the dispersion which had no first hand witness experience of the resurrection, so were just like us! Peter is at pains to say that Jesus is not just a past event, or expects him in the future but is a present, transforming living hope. They have been born again!
John 20: 19-31 (page 906 in our pew Bibles) The resurrection of Jesus is not completed until the gift of the Holy Spirit is breathed on them in the same manner as God breathed life into Adam in Genesis 2:7. The incident with Thomas seems to be there in order for Jesus to bless all future believers.

Which out of all the information we have just heard is the most important message for us today?
In my view it is from Peter’s letter. There is important contextual stuff in both John and Peter’s own speech in the book of Acts, but the MOST important message it seems to me is this;
Everything that happened in the past is great, but it is all still just history. Everything we look forward to is great, but it hasn’t happened yet.
But we live in the here and now, not in the past or the future.
The most important thing that Peter says in my view is that Jesus, is a present transforming reality. The Spirit of the living God transforms our present. We are born again to a living hope says Peter. Jesus is alive and the Father has sent his Spirit to inspire, strengthen, transform our present.
What really distinguishes churches that are just coasting and those which are vital and truly exciting and alive is when that fact, that experience becomes embedded in the culture and informs everything we are and do.
That sense is conveyed fully in Acts when the healing of a leper, something Jesus would have done, was done by Peter in Jesus’ name. The restorative healing power of God that dwelt in Jesus has been made manifest and exercised through Peter.
The life giving power of Jesus is made available through his disciples by means of the Holy Spirit breathed out on the disciples.
Jesus’ life giving and life enhancing Spirit was breathed on the disciples in much the same way that in the Garden of Eden – God breathed life into Adam.
The only evidence that Jesus really has been raised and the evidence that the Spirit has been given is us – Jesus’ modern disciples.
How we are and how we treat each other is the only credible evidence that any of this is true to an outsider.
If we have peace of mind, if we can keep the narrow way, if we can heal our troubled spirits, and act as a coherent body, and can be a blessing to everyone we meet, if we can be examples of a changed life; then that is the evidence that speaks far louder than anything else.
God wants to bless our lives – which appears to be the point of recounting the episode with Thomas, who couldn’t believe until he had put his fingers in the wounds in his hands and his side.   He didn’t need to do so actually, just seeing Jesus was enough but gave Jesus the opportunity to bless all future generations who would believe even though they had not seen his risen body in person.
But the point of the church is that people might be able to catch a glimpse of his body through a transformed community that Paul calls – the body of Christ. I want to end this sermon by saying the prayer of St. Theresa which sums up perfectly what I am trying to say;

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but OURS.

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