January 9, 2012

Body of Christ

Posted in Holy Spirit, Lent, Pentecost, Sanctification, The Eucharist, Trinity at 9:41 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Through God’s holy mysteries,
Living water flows into these
Imperfect vessels, dull and bleak,
Chipped and tarnished, frail and weak.
But, filled with grace and not regret,
Such jars can honor Heaven yet.
For Christ converts them into gold
And bids them His pure treasure hold.
The change is not just bread and wine
But souls transformed to health divine.
No longer banished, child of Eve,
A place of honor now receive,
And to the Master taking heed,
Prepared for every holy deed.

Copyright © 2012 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)

Satan loves to trick us with sleight of hand. Much ink has been spilled over exactly what happens to the bread and wine when the priest consecrates them. The much more important question is, What happens to us when we are consecrated to God’s purpose? The bread, the body of Christ, is not the goal. The Church, the body of Christ, is the goal, sanctified by baptism and the Spirit, and fed by the very life and presence of our Lord Himself.

The imagery of potter and clay surfaces multiple times in Scripture. Perhaps the most intriguing of these passages is 2 Timothy 2:19-21, where two things are at work. What is necessarily first is that “the Lord knows those who are His.” Being made alive by the calling of God through the Holy Spirit, we are His. But that does not relieve us of the responsibility to seek after holiness, for the very next words in this passage are a solemn injunction: “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” Yes, He calls, and if He didn’t we would never rise up out of the pigsty of our sins. But when He calls, we must turn, depart from iniquity, and run home to our Father.

There is also an element of Romans 12, in that we present these cleansed vessels to God as our “reasonable service.” This is another passage in which the theme of sanctification is prominent. It is not enough for us to be hidden away somewhere, set apart in holiness. No, wee are to be counter-cultural. Transformed by Christ, we are to transform the world, rather than being conformed to the world around us.

The original version of this poem is dated September 19, 2002, and it was revised 25 June 2007. Tonight, the main change has been in the final four lines, which I realized didn’t really follow from the preceding lines. In addition, the final two lines were terribly trite, and that will never do. The revision more closely follows the thoughts in the passage from 2 Timothy than did the previous version.

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