“En Christo”

God's Beauty Flares Forth over Lake Chatuge as the Sun Rises

Where is God? This question continues to drive me to search for “answers.” This weekend I saw a football game; the player scored and raised his hand toward heaven. He must think God is up there. Then, at church on Sunday, I saw people raising their hands skyward as they sang praises to God. They too must think God is up there.

Up there is old cosmology based on the cosmos as a curved dome with God enthroned above the dome. Not very incarnational—up there, out here, remote from us.

According to Paul, if we point to God, we should be pointing to our hearts:


But now it has been manifested to his holy ones,
to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory
of this mystery among the Gentiles;
it is Christ in you, the hope for glory. (Col. 1)

Paul does slip up and revert to the old cosmology at times; however, the Christ, who danced before God even before creation flared forth, dwells within the cosmos and within us. This is the very meaning of incarnation—not up there and out here but within us, within creation as it continues to surge forth from the Creator. One of Paul’s favorite expressions is “en Christo.” Incarnation speaks to the horizontal dimension of God reconciling all things. We live and have our being in the Christ—the Risen One.

I am sure you have seen the tire commercial where the driver skillfully avoids running over the beaver. Later, the same driver on the same course slams on the brakes as a tree falls across the rod. When he gets out to see what is going on, he sees that the bridge he would have crossed is being torn away by surging flood waters. He spots the beaver who points to his heart and then toward the man—I love you. The man responds in kind. He saved the beaver and the beaver saved him.

Paul would have loved this commercial—God dwelling in our hearts enabling us to love one another. The Christ is incarnate in our cosmos and in our hearts. Read the wonderful hymn in Colossians:

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

My Celtic forebears imbibed this theology. Read the Lorica, the Breastplate of St. Patrick:

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation
The full text can be found at http://www.ancienttexts.org/library/celtic/ctexts/p03.html.




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