Monday, April 4, 2011

Lady Snail, The Church

In many ways the Church is rather slug - or better yet - snail-like.  Not in a culinary way (there is no Escargot Lutheran Church that I know of at least), but in some of her recognizable features.  It all revolves around the senses: you can touch, taste, see, hear and yes, even smell the Church.  This should come as no surprise for He who created her also came that He might be touched, seen, heard, tasted and even smelled - a pleasing aroma in the nostrils of the Lord.  And for you, a very present Savior in time of need.

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full." (1 John 1:1-4)

She leaves a trail - not of gooey slime - but a crimson pathway.  It's not that hard to find the Church in that respect, just follow the trail of blood.  It flows from the very killing fields that cried out for vengeance all the way to the blood that speaks a better word than Abel's - the precious blood of Christ, shed on the cross.   O, taste and see this fine, Crucified and Risen delicacy poured out in the shell and the chalice for your forgiveness.  From Genesis to Revelation - past, present and future - this trail of blood leads to the cross and flows out from it - or rather - to the One Crucified upon that cruel spit.  Her suffering is as recognizable as the freshly spread glimmer of the snail-trail upon the dewy sidewalk.  Stephen and the saints under the altar - that is, in, with and under the Lamb who stands and yet is slain - continue to cry out: "O Lord, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth (Revelation 6:10).

But the martyrs who rest from their labors are not the only members of this Church.  As she carries around her home wherever she roams, so long His marks remain visible to all the world - there are martyrs among the living as well as among the dead.  And these faithful witnesses in the land of the "living" leave another kind of trail, a righteous witness to Christ and the Word.  In some of the most unlikely, inhospitable habitats, in some of the tightest spaces, there is the Church proclaiming her Savior - you can touch, taste, see, hear and smell Him in the midst of her - and leaving a merciful, visceral trail of good deeds so that all who come into contact with her witness would see their good deeds and glorify her Father in heaven.  And like any good snail or slug, she moves slowly, deliberately - not haphazardly  or wayward - but finally and sublimely cared for by the pierced hands of the Gardener, the Word made flesh, who cares for her, creates and gives life as she presses toward the goal.

Yes, so it's not a perfect analogy, but what is? 

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