Universal Child, Universal Church

Spiritual seekers may not be interested in the church, but here's an interesting question: how do we create community? Is there something common to us all, part of the human grain, which we need to enter into if community is to grow? In the Christmas song Universal Child, Annie Lennox sings 'You're everywhere, shining like the sun, And I wished to God that kids like you could be like everyone.'

An amazing surprise is that a vast experiment is taking place to make this wish a reality. The Christmas Child inaugurated something. universal to continue after his brief life on earth. It's sometimes called Christ's Body and is also known as the Christian Church. It has a two thousand year story. There are two sides to every story. The bad side has been pushed down our throats by the media. There is another side. I am writing a book about it. Don't write the church off. There's always people at its heart who are serious about having organs in the Body that link the weak parts to the whole, and renew its health. so that it shines. In church jargon these are called 'the instruments of catholicity' - the Universal Child stuff.

Why bother with these? We only know about Jesus (The Universal Child) because the Church in its early days handed down records of Jesus (Scripture), and transmitted his practice of appointing apostles (Bishops). The outward structures of the church and its inner meaning find deepest expression when every member and every local church dies to self in its utter dependence upon the whole. Thus the structure of the Body sets forth the dying and rising with Christ in the midst of his people. This structure consists of the Bible, Creeds, the Councils when all the Bishops came together to seek guidance from the Holy Spirit, and the sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist. These point beyond self-centred things to Christ healing, feeding and moving to his death and resurrection.

There have been developments and splits in the church. The test of a true development is whether it bears witness to this pattern and whether it serves the organic unity of the Body in all its parts. The Scriptures, Baptism, Eucharist, apostolate, creeds, are vindicated because they are the means by which the Gospel of God in Christ prevailed over one-sided theories and perversions of Christian life. 'The structure of the church is the catholic fact. How far the Papacy expresses this main fact or distorts it is a subsequent historical question'. (Archbishop MIchael Ramsey). The fact that Pope John Paul 2nd had the humility to invite Christians from all traditions to make suggestions as to how a papacy might better serve the whole Body of Christ is an indication that work remains to be done.

Don't give up hope. The Universal Child is still breaking into lives throughout the global village. Sometimes clouds of bureacratic arrogance hide him. But often times, and at a million altars, the sun still breaks through.

Posted at 07:32am on 25th November 2010
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