Lent: Encountering the Divine

Post a Comment » Written on March 11th, 2009     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (March 11, 2009) – John Weborg is Professor Emeritus of Theology at North Park Theological Seminary and a longtime columnist for The Covenant Companion. Each week during Lent, we are sharing one of his columns that originally appeared in the magazine. Today’s installment first appeared in April 1990.

By Dr. John Weborg

One way I have practiced the devotional life is to write meditations on the lines or petitions of classic prayers. A favorite is the Anima Christ (life or soul of Christ) from the Fourteenth Century. It is prayed as follows: “Soul of Christ, sanctify me; / Body of Christ, save me; / Blood of Christ, refresh me; / Water from the side of Christ, wash me; / Passion of Christ, strengthen me; / O good Jesus, hear me; / Within thy wounds, hide me; / Suffer me not to be separated from thee; / From the malicious enemy, defend me; / And bid me come to thee that with thy saints I may praise thee for all eternity. Amen.”

What follows is, or might be, common in the immediacy of encounter with the divine, more a stream of consciousness than carefully constructed concepts. Using the first person, it is doxological and quizzical in character, not fixed and formulated. Why not let your heart guide your hand, praying your way into the prayer and then out into life.

Body of Christ, Save Me

O the confusion here of ideas. Shall I focus on the physical body of Jesus? Shall I focus on the ecclesia, the church? Shall I focus on the bread from heaven, on the Bread of the Holy Eucharist?

“I really wonder if I can be as lowly as Jesus and as bodily – this is the profoundly spiritual question.”

Body of Christ—the vehicle of Christness, the “without which” presence would be impossible. So I celebrate here the glory of the body—not a limitation really, but a vehicle, an interface between the inner and the outer, the place where matter and spirit embrace one another as the two constitutive aspects of reality. His body is part of his reality—not a temporary part, not a concession to lesser reality, but a consecration of all reality. O the glory of it all—here the Eucharist is intuited before it is instituted—all or reality is presentable to God in the form of thanksgiving and sacrifice. God can use it all! Nothing is written off!

Jesus used spit to heal a blind man, a towel to sign his equal love to all, the womb of a virgin to both conceal and manifest his glory, a rock tomb to win his greatest victory. Tillich said that Christianity began in the cemetery and not at the cradle. I agree. Even death shall praise him! Alleluia Lord most high! Yet, so lowly, Mysterium tremendum et fascinans! Fascinated and frightened! Repelled and attracted. I really wonder if I can be as lowly as Jesus and as bodily—this is the profoundly spiritual question. And also the profoundest quest—to embrace the lowliness and the bodiliness of Jesus. O how much easier it would be if it were just spiritual!

Jesus’ body is still for me. The body in the Eucharist is Christ for me. An eternal sign over against my transiency, failings, temporariness, fickleness. The body still saves me—extending to me the tokens of victory over sin, death, the law, and the devil.

Body of Christ—adored and praised forever because in your ministry all people found place; in your death, atonement for sins; and in your resurrection, hope—all very bodily.

That’s where I live, God, between memory and hope. But with me is Christ—for me totally. Therefore I embrace my present totally, offering it in praise, protest, and petition.

Immanuel be praised—the Lord is my salvation.

Editor’s note: to read previously published columns as part of this special Lent series, visit the following links:

•    Lent: Standing By Your Word

•    Lent: Tears Can Do Double Duty

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Report This Post

Leave a Reply

Report This Blog