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Pamela Czarnota Pamela Czarnota

Pamelas Czarnota is a member of the ELCA Northeastern Ohio Synod Congregational Resource Team, and a conference speaker, retreat leader, spiritual director and writer.

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Recognizing Christ

April 28, 2011

How do you recognize Christ? After all, contrary to what the knowledge of the world would proclaim, Christ is so much more than memory or metaphor.  Christ is a real presence here in 2011.  Our daily mission is to recognize Him and introduce others to Him. 

Let's think about recognition:

Recognition: the identification of something as having been previously seen, heard, known, etc. (from dictionary.com unabridged)

I emphasize the word "previously" because what we know about God's presence in the past can heighten our awareness of Christ in our midst now.  The gift of cognition (thinking) plays an important (albeit limited) role in faithful vision.  (We are, after all, thinking beings.)  When we set our minds upon God's Word, we can begin to access all that has been previously seen, heard or known by God's people.  We have learned about God by listening to or reading scripture.

Yet, this is much, much more than a thinking process.  Perhaps this is how it works:

The mind absorbs scripture.  It works to interpret and integrate meaning.  When we grasp (even in part) the meaning of God's Word it unleashes a perception of the abiding presence of God's mysterious Love. In that presence, we identify a place where all that we have heard and all that we long to hear is beating -- in our heart.  In our heart, through the Holy Spirit, God directs us and empowers us to think, speak, and act in His Name.

Your mind can be a source of discovering and implementing plans and possibilities. Your mind can unravel details or ingredients of ministry opportunities. However, your intellect isn't what will propel you into action.   If you are hesitant to move, waiting for a moment when all the testimony of scripture will fall into a tidy, logical or rational space, you may likely remain in the same spot for the rest of your life.

 There comes a point when the breadth and depth of God's powerful love will confound the mind.  

 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. 
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

Awe kicks in and the mind may say:  Now wait, how can this be?  

The meaning of scripture moves beyond our mind, stimulating the fire of God's love in our hearts and purifying our intentions so that we may love and serve others more passionately.  We are literally transformed; but the end result often does not make logical sense.  It is, after all, rooted in God's mystery.  

That is where faith takes over.  Faith enables us to recognize Christ. Faith is God's initiative that moves you where your mind can't go. Faith is deeper than thought. Faith sprouts from unthinking -- unknowing. 

Faith, stretches and breaks the limits of mental definition, erupting as the miraculous, unbounded flow of love that grows exponentially with words and actions that point others to Christ.  When the mind is opened to and by scripture, the stirring movement of the Holy Spirit fans the flame of faith that resides in the heart. Miraculous actions emerge, introducing others to Christ.

Think about it.  How are you experiencing Christ in your midst?

Now stop thinking about it.  

 As your heart recognizes Christ, how can you introduce Him to others through your words or actions or simply by your presence in His Name?


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