Monday, August 24, 2009

Only One Christ - A message in Meeting on August 23rd

The following message was given at 15th Street yesterday (in words pretty close to this, though I am writing now from memory).

Our minds sometimes trick us into thinking that we have to choose between two seemingly different and opposing things when in reality they are only two sides of the same thing. For instance, we may think that we need to choose between justice and peace, between contemplation and action, or between faith and works. We Friends, at various times in our history have been especially prone to fooling ourselves that we have to choose between an "inner" Christ or an "outer" Christ.

If we really did have to make this choice most of us would probably choose the "inner" Christ, if only because it is primarily within us that we are able to hear Him and feel His presence. The Jesus of history may seem far away and hard to be sure about. We like John's description of Christ as the Word that was with God from the Beginning, as the Life that wells up in us, as the Light that enlightens everyone who comes into the world. But John also said of this same Word that at a particular time and place it "became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth". It is important to me to know that when I wait on the living Spirit of Christ in our meetings and feel his presence here that I am also touching at least the outer hem of the garment of that man who "dwelt among us" in the flesh, who got his feet dirty walking the dusty roads of Palestine, who touched people and let them touch him, who started out as a baby and had to "grow in wisdom and in stature" just as we do. Who knew about hunger and thirst and weariness. Who could be tempted. Who was moved by compassion. Who could rejoice with his friends at a wedding and who could endure suffering and even death when that was the price of faithfulness. In worshipping his living Spirit today I am also worshipping the man Jesus Christ, not choosing one over the other.

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