22 June 2009

Flaming for Christ: with wounds on its sides

By Takako Suzuki Terino

We often speak of the church as one body of Christ. Then we speak of the need for healing and reconciliation. Just as Jesus was sent to the broken world to bring healing and reconciliation, so we the church, which is his body, are sent out to the world to bring healing and reconciliation. Sounds good.

But let’s take a closer look at this body. How did the church come to have this body which we dare claim to be the body of Christ? It was Resurrected Jesus who appeared to the disciples and made them apostles by sending them out into the world. When the promised power of the Holy Spirit came to them, life was breathed into them and the church was born. We the church thus became the body of Resurrected Jesus, enlivened by the Holy Spirit. But the peculiar thing about this body of Resurrected Jesus was that it had wounds, the wounds that had killed Jesus on the cross. Jesus showed these wounds to the disciples so that they could know it was really him. They are surely the mark of Resurrected Jesus, whose body we are.

These wounds of Jesus have often been romanticized. For some, they speak of Jesus’ compassion for the world that Jesus loved us to death. Hallelujah? No, we cannot adore and worship these wounds, because we do not celebrate Jesus death. Indeed, we ought to be furious about these wounds, because they are nothing other than the mark of injustice that sucked life out of the earthly Jesus. These wounds are evil. Rather, what we do celebrate and worship is the mighty God who overcame this evil and brought Jesus back to life, with wounds and all.

Of late, when we speak of the need for healing and reconciliation, we are often talking not about the world in general but about our own church. Every defeat in our effort to bring justice to our church polity is a new wound on the side of our body; every loveless confrontation with an opponent, another self-inflicting stab. Yet, we dance gingerly around these wounds as we grope our way for healing and reconciliation. Yes, we are marked by these wounds of injustice, but we must resist the temptation to romanticize them as merely a sign of our sinfulness for which Jesus died. For it is not the life-sucking wounds but the power of God who overcomes them that makes us, the church, alive and flaming for Resurrected Christ.

Now let us go and spread the Good News down Fifth Avenue, flaming for Christ!

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