Saturday, November 6, 2010

Is the Church Christ's tomb or his living body?

"...the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead..." From Ephesians 1, Lesson for All Saints' Day

The Communion of Saints, the church of all Christ's faithful in all times and places, is filled with the power that God unleashed in the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb. This is why Jesus is confident to give his followers tall orders,

"But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you." From Luke 6, Gospel for All Saints' Day

But the church so often fails to use this power. It is as though the life of Jesus is placed in the church, only to be left there inert as though in the tomb.

Let's not forget that Jesus' tomb had many of the positive marks of the church. There was sacrificial stewardship through Joseph of Arimathea's donation of his own burial niche. There was reverence as the loyal women came to anoint Jesus' body.

The "normal" ways of "doing church" can feature astounding generosity and reverence, yet the power never gets "put to work" by going out into the world, into unexpected places, like its risen Lord.

The lesson for All Saints' tells us that this power is "immeasurably great" because it is the power of God at work - the same power that raised Jesus from death to eternal life. But first of all the lesson says that this power "is for us who believe" - for the church.

So we pray that we, who are the Communion of Saints, the church, will not be just a donated and reverent tomb where Jesus is laid to rest, but his powerful body, striding out to fill the world with the Good News of God, who "has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all."

We are his living body, because his power is for us.

1 comment: said...

I loved this - how thoughtful, and challenging for us who follow Christ. Thank you for calling us to Christ's mandate, not a tired resignation of "good enough" in culture.