Be the church--still

Week 8, Day 2

Matthew 6. 10

“The best of all song is birdsong in the quiet. But first you have to find the quiet”

Wendell Berry

Matthew 6.10

Your kingdom come.

Your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

Our study for this year so far has fallen under the heading, “Be the Church”. We have been looking at what the church should be about by considering what, according to various Bible writers, God cares about.

The church is, according to St Paul (I Corinthians 12:27), the Body of Christ in the world—the eyes and ears, the hands and feet, the heart of God in the world. It follows then that the today’s body of Christ on earth would care about the same things the Living Christ cared about when he walked among us. In other words, “Be the church in the world” and “Be Jesus in the world” mean pretty much the same thing.

Teresa of Avila gave a poetic twist to this idea way back in the 16th century:

Christ Has No Body

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 yours.

We have witnessed so far the depth of God’s concern for the neighbor, the stranger (immigrants) and the powerless (widows and orphans, for starters), and thought about what this means for our relationships with these same groups. This week we will wonder whether the Divine heart breaks and bleeds for anything other than the people of the earth. How does God feel about the earth itself?

In the Genesis 1 Creation Story, God looks over each day’s work and pronounces it “good”. At the end of the week when God rests and looks over all that has been made, God declares it “very good!” What does this mean? Does the earth, along with all its features and creatures, have value to the Creator? If God has an eye for the good and values what is good, does this mean these created things have intrinsic value—that is, are they valuable just because they are? If the Body of Christ is to care for the things God cares about, are we obligated to look after the earth—its plants and animals as well as its people, its soil, air and water, its oceans, lakes and rivers, its fields and forests?

And if we, the Body of Christ, imagine an obligation to the whole creation, how are we to live? Are we free to use the earth? Are we free to use it up? Is some level of destruction acceptable? Is it possible to live without destroying the earth?

More questions, I know. They seem to be unavoidable. Perhaps the Lenten season we begin this week will be an appropriate time to consider them.

Prayer: Break open our hearts, that your will may be done by us on earth as it is by you in heaven. Before it is too late, make us instruments of your peace on this good earth you love, we pray. Amen