What would be your response if someone came to you exclaiming, ‘I have seen the Lord!’? You might respond in disbelief. You might dismiss their ramblings as ‘an idle tale’, as did the apostles when Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary the mother of James reported the same thing to them. Depending on the age of the person, you might respond in curiosity. If a child were to come to you saying this, you might say, ‘Come now, child, stop speaking such nonsense.’. Alternatively, you might encourage, ‘Really? Tell me now. What did the Lord look like?’
Whatever your response, the words, ‘I have seen the Lord’ do catch your attention, for better or for worse. For better, in that you are invited to prod, interrogate and partake in the joy of the one bringing the news. For worse if you simply dismiss the news as the ramblings of a delusional person.
I want to ask another question, though, don’t we see the Lord every day? Without dismissing the glory that Mary Magdalene and others beheld when they saw the Risen Lord, I ask, don’t we encounter Christ every day? As difficult as it might be to conceive, I assert that we do see Christ every day. We see Jesus, not in the flesh, no, the time for that has long gone. Rather, we encounter Christ every day in the spirit. This encounter happens whenever I see myself, whenever you see yourself, whenever we see another person.
I share with you the fourth verse of the communion hymn, ‘We Remember’ written by Marty Haugen:
'See the face of Christ revealed in ev’ry person standing by your side; Gift to one another, and temples of your love.'
There are other references that speak to daily encounters with Christ. There is the line from the hymn, ‘They will know we are Christians by our love’. One who is called a Christian is so called because that person reflects the image and likeness of Christ in the love which he/she displays to others. Think of what identifies you as a member of your family. You might have encountered others who see the resemblance between you and a brother, a sister, a parent, or some other relative. Especially in small communities, others recognise you as coming from a particular family because of that resemblance. Now, if we are each fashioned in the image and likeness of God, of whom Jesus Christ is the second person, do we not encounter the Lord every day? If you agree with my reasoning, what is your response to the Christ that you encounter every day? What is your response to your neighbour whom you encounter every day?
On Maundy Thursday, we commemorate the issuing of the New Commandment to love one another (See John 13:34 ‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.’). Again I ask, what is your response to the neighbour that you encounter every day, for as it is written in 1 John 4,
‘Those who say, “I love God”, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.’1 John 4:20-21 (NRSV)
If we do as encouraged in 1 John 4, we are well underway towards purpose. How so? Purpose requires HEWing, which is living in a way that optimises one’s human effectiveness at work. As you submit yourself to your HEWing, you lay aside the behaviours, mindsets and attitudes that prevent you from becoming who you were created to be. In so doing, you separate yourself from envy, anger, greed, lust, distrust, pride, fear, and other behaviours that prevent you from responding in love to your neighbour. As you allow that process to have its fulness in you, you resurrect more of the Christ in you. As more of the Christ in you is resurrected, the Christ in you is able to identify the Christ in others. As that identification happens, the Christ in you responds to the Christ in your neighbour. That response is one that honours the commandment given on that fateful night when Jesus instituted the sacrament of Holy Communion, when He demonstrated the duty of the servant leader and when He left us the New Commandment.
In our modern context, then, ‘I have seen the Lord’ is a proclamation that we should make every time we see our neighbour because the risen Christ who dwells in us has communed with the risen Christ in our neighbour. As we commune this way, we work together with each other in love towards our individual and communal journey of purpose.
Friends, I have seen the Lord. In fact, I see the Lord every day in my brothers and my sisters. I see the Lord in you. I see the Lord in myself. I see the Lord! I see the Lord! I see the Lord!
Until next time,