Christ in me…
The Lorica of Saint Patrick (St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer)
Three simple words, and yet when it comes to the presence of Christ, perhaps this is the most complicated line of all. I mentioned the presence of Christ through the Holy Spirit in the previous reflection, but this is the time to dig a bit deeper into that mystery.
There is a reason God put on flesh and walked among us. We needed to see a God with skin on. We needed a God we could identify with. We needed a God who “walks with us and talks with us and tells us we are his own” (Charles Austin Miles, “In the Garden”, 1913).
If we’re really honest, there is a part of us that would be OK waiting on the whole “Spirit thing” until we get to heaven if we could just ask Jesus a few questions now, in person. We live in the physical world. It would be nice to talk to a physical God, even if only for a few hours or a day. As we said on Day 5 when we talked about the Ascension, Jesus in the flesh could only be in one place at a time and he could only dwell among so many people. But God desires to dwell with all people of all times. And so Christ sends the Spirit who does not merely dwell with certain people in a certain place or certain time, but who dwells “in” every person in every place for all time.
We find ourselves with an incomprehensible mystery, for we cannot explain or conceive of a relationship that intimate. Every human relationship, no matter how close, functions with clear physical boundaries and personal space. For the Holy Spirit, there is no such thing as “personal space” or physical boundaries. What does it mean for a living being to dwell “in” us. It just doesn’t feel right. Such intimacy makes us deeply uncomfortable. We cry out with the Psalmist, “Where can I go from your presence O God?” because part of us still lives with the shame of Eden and we do not want God to see that we are naked (Psalm 139, Genesis 3:7-11). We believe God sees everything, but we are very good at pretending to hide. Like little children, we cover our eyes and think we are invisible because we can’t see.
“Christ in me” can be truly freeing, if we embrace what it means to be fully known and yet fully loved. But this is a difficult truth to accept because we know our sin all to well. We all have things we want to hide. This is why we so often live as if Christ is not present at all. “If I can’t see the Holy Spirit,” we reason, “maybe the Spirit can’t see me.” It may not be a conscious thought, but our feelings of shame before God are all too real and our futile efforts to hide only prevent us from experiencing the joy and freedom of the presence of Christ in us.
If Christ is in us, there is truly no reason to hide. Our fig leaves only keep us from knowing the love of our Father.
My life is hidden with Christ, wrapped up in the covering of my Father
My life is hidden with Christ, no more use in running away.
No more use in hiding my face. No more use in hiding. There is nothing to hide.
No more sons and daughters hiding in the closet of fear…
- Andrew Ehrenezeller, “Naked”, 2011 (http://andrewehrenzeller.com/)
1. What first thoughts come to mind when you think about “Christ in you”?
2. Is the thought of God being so close and intimate comforting, frightening, or somewhere in between? Why?
3. How have you tried to hide from God’s presence in you? Are you presently hiding and if so, is it time to come out of hiding?
* All song rights belong to Andrew Ehrenzeller
Our journey through St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer continues next week:
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me…
If you are enjoying this series on St. Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer and would like to share it with others, I’ve got great news. I’m publishing this entire year long series as a 40-Day Devotional Book through Amazon sometime before December 1. Stay tuned for release details and be sure to invite others to subscribe for regular blog updates.
I Arise Today:
A 40 Day Journey through St. Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer
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