Christ Has No Body On Earth But Ours
Ours are the only hands which Christ can use to work,
Ours are the only feet with which Christ can go about the world,
Ours are the only eyes through which Christ’s compassion can shine forth upon a troubled world.
Christ has no body on earth now but ours.
A Prayer Said by St. Teresa of Avila
This prayer began our time together last weekend at the More Light Presbyterians Board of Directors’ winter meeting and it continues to dwell in my mind and heart as an inspiring Truth. I left the board meeting refreshed, empowered, eager to be a part of Christ’s body on earth.
Today, I want to ponder upon three ways MLP is crucially Christ’s body in the world.
First, the mission of More Light Presbyterians (and comparable organizations in other Christian folds dedicated to full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians in the church) has been, is now and will be to shine forth Christ’s compassion on any troubled place.
Michael Adee shared a story he heard Bishop Gene Robinson tell that brought home the work that is ours. Bishop Robinson was sitting with a group of young gay men. None of these men had grown up in the church and yet they all were certain that they were sinful, an abomination and going to hell. The church taught them this and it contributed mightily to the trouble and suffering these men had experienced. Around the MLP board table, we all knew that our task is to remedy this grievous shame that blights the church and the world.
Second, right now More Light Presbyterians is very focused on helping the 173 presbyteries (regions) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approve Amendment 10A, a revision of PCUSA church law that opens the way for LGBT Presbyterians to ordained service in the church. The PCUSA national assembly, meeting last summer, recommended adoption of this amendment. The presbyteries are in a season of voting: a simple majority of 87 presbyteries is needed for passage.
Of course, there are other important aspects of full participation of LGBT people in the church — advocacy for LGBT civil rights, marriage equality, a stand against bullying, for example — but the fact is LGBT ordination has been the test of LGBT equality in the church since the 1970’s. The church has to get this right. We will continue to suffer as we all have for over 30 years until we fulfill the promise to our children that all God’s children have a place in the choir. Until we get this right we are hypocrites. Jesus has only our hands and feet to get this done now.
Third, Michael also reminded us of the words of Professor Cornell West: “Justice is what love looks like in public.” Yes. Following Jesus in the only purpose for my inner journey of prayer and meditation as well as my outer journey of seeking justice, “what love looks like in public.” Both of these aspects of my life are about loving God and loving neighbor as Jesus teaches us to do.
And love in public only gets done by our stepping up to be the hands, feet, eyes and ears of Christ. Justice was the cantus firmus of our conversation all weekend. And when you get right down to it, justice is what More Light Presbyterians is all about. For us, it was crystal clear: there is an immense amount of justice that needs to get done and there is no waiting around for someone else to do it. Christ has no body on earth now but ours.