Embodying Christ Sue D’Alessio
But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Corinthians:24b-27 NRSV)
As part of a book group, I reread The Peaceable Kingdom by Stanley Hauerwas. He claims that our Christian ethics and our moral lives are based upon the narrative stories we share. He says, “Moreover, we must recognize that we live out our lives in the light of certain conceptions of a possible shared future. As a result I am not a self born with no history. Rather that story of my life ‘is always embedded in the story of those communities from which I derive my identity.’”
This comment from Hauerwas has stayed with me in dialogue with Paul’s assertion of us being “the body of Christ.” I have been pondering ever since I read it a couple weeks ago. In light of the viruses of COVID-19 and systemic racism, when our lives have been upended and turned inside-out, what does it mean in this time in history to be the body of Christ, the church (people) as Christ incarnate “embedded in the story” of our Christian community?
If, as Hauerwas asserts, “we live out our lives in the light of certain conceptions of a possible shared future,” what does it mean to us when our “certain conceptions” are upended? What does it mean when we can no longer assume that we have a common vision of a “possible shared future?” Who are we as Christian community in a virtual worship, virtual Annual Conference, physically distanced, racially divided world? What does it mean to live into our common Christian moral narrative and ethical mores, when we consider the differences in our global contexts – and even our local contexts? What are our shared narratives and stories when we understand, interpret, and live into them so differently?
I believe this is a part of our work right now. And it is what is adding to some of our malaise and stress. If we don’t know what our future will bring, how do we move forward? What new shared future can we build – together? I don’t know any answers (don’t think any of us does). I do have some thoughts which guide me even when I feel hopeless and despairing, to live with hope and joy.
I believe that God’s creation is made in wholeness, holiness, goodness first. I believe that humanity – together in community and as individuals – is a part of the goodness of creation (and yes, we are fractured, we sin, we live in a world of broken systems and behaviors – but first, goodness is True). I believe that when we treat others as “other” and not-wanted and not-belonging, we are breaking our body and our covenant with God. I believe we need to repent and turn our lives around. I believe we are in this together. Our call is to behold (see and love deeply) the wholeness and goodness of each and every person and each and every community and each and every situation, in the same what that God beholds us. Our call is to live into this wholeness/holiness with every fiber of our being/spirit with prayers and actions (our behavior as prayer) to live and love into a world comprised of our communities, our church, and our selves where Christ’s justice, mercy, grace, and peace are made real. We are called to embody Christ in all and through all. We are the body of Christ and together, members of it.
God of life and love, We offer our lives to serve you in this world, working for your justice and your peace and living in your grace and your love. Forgive our fractured, broken ways of living. Guide us so we may embody your wholeness and holiness. We pray in the name of the one who taught us how to live, Jesus Christ. Amen.
 Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue (Notre Dame, Ind.; University of Notre Dame Press, 1981), p. 197.
 Stanley Hauerwas, The Peaceable Kingdom: A Primer in Christian Ethics (Notre Dame, Ind.; University of Notre Dame Pres, 1983), ebook Ch 4, 1.3, location 1578
Daily Devotion for June 19, 2020
Embodying Christ Sue D’Alessio