better without the paragraphs (Romans 8)

This evening i attended a Taize service at Stanton St John, Oxfordshire. There were about 10 of us gathered in the candle lit parish church, sat around a simple display of fabric and heart shapes. The most special part of the service for me was 10 minutes of silence framed by a simple reading that named the mystery of God’s spirit living within us. As i sat with my prayer cross in my hand i was conscious of the coming together of a number of realities i have been pondering over recent weeks.

Christ within me, Christ before me, Christ above me, Christ surrounding me…. I spent half the weekend in Cornwall; it was the Celts who brought Christianity to Cornwall, we passed a number of ancient Celtic crosses, a reminder of Christ right there, present in every activity of everyday life.

A few weeks ago at a Foundations course, i had the task of facilitating the exploration of Eternal Life – what is it and how do you get it? Over a year ago a friend of mine gave me some podcasts of NT Wright’s teaching (thank you Jim!) and i am enjoying this year having the space to listen to them! I want to discover and appreciate the different shades, hues and incredible realities of this life that is yours and mine in Christ. I want to realise more fully how Jesus brought an end to the old order and, having done that completely, set in motion a new creation that is continually emerging as his own life and breath lives and acts in me and you.

Christ’s own life within me and all around me, does not preclude pain or poverty, difficulties, injustice and a constant wrestle against my own selfishness. Perhaps this is what is meant by sharing both in his suffering as well as his resurrection? My hope is not that everything is going to go the way that i want it, or even the way i think God wants it. It might, it might not. My hope is that Christ breaths in me, surrounds me and is there to welcome me into every moment – whatever else that moment holds.

When i read Romans 8 as a whole without the paragraphs i find meaning behind the treasure carried in earthen vessels and i see how those who have within them the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, still do experience pain and suffering, even to the point of death.

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