Saturday, December 11, 2010

Witnesses to the Comings of Christ

Michael Ramsey (1904 -1988) was the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury, serving from 1961 to 1974. He wrote these words originally as part of an address to ordinands. They help us to understand our life and ministry as a witness to the Christ who comes to us.

Watch and be ready; the Lord is coming. Think of your ministry or Christian life as a series of comings of Christ; then the more you learn not to be taken unawares, the more you can love his appearing. How does he come to us? In times of grief and disappointment he comes. Just when you begin to be oppressed, you find that your nearness to his grief is the supreme fact: you are near his Cross again, and you are taken out of yourself. In times of joy in your life or ministry he comes; and just when you are tempted to be pleased with your own success, you find that his joy is the supreme fact, and it makes an enormous difference. In times of complacency or unfaithfulness he also comes; and in your sudden painful awareness that all is not well with you, he is near in judgment and forgiveness.

When the master of the house comes, what does he do (cf Luke 12:35-46? We would expect him to sit down and refresh himself, and tell his servants to wait on him. But no: the Lord waits on them. So our Lord always comes to us in order to serve us; and it is for us to let him do so. Occupied as we are in our life and ministry with serving him and other people in his name, we have to face the sharpest test of our humility, which is our readiness to let him serve us. For he never comes to us without longing to serve us: 'Jesus, who served the apostles by washing their feet: serve me often, serve me daily, in washing my motives, my ambitions, my actions. "Cleanse me from my secret faults." (Psalm 19:12).' By your humility you will prove that the authority entrusted to you is really Christ's; for Christ is your servant.

Let him serve you in the frequent cleansing of motive, ambition and action; and then your authority, possessed in his name, will be wielded always with the humility that is his.

From The Christian Priest Today, SPCK London 1972, page 64


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