1. As a Christian community we seek above all else to be Christlike - to be as Christ to those we meet; to find Christ within them. Over the years we have deepened our understanding of what that means to us. Our understandings are those things we aspire toward as we follow Christ and seek to keep the community Rule. They are at the core of who we are and seek to become. They are not a list of do’s and don’ts; nor are they a list of self-congratulations, “look at us we’ve made it!” At their heart they are our prayer. We see these understandings in the life of Jesus; shining, precious gems, winsome, lovely, drawing us out of ourselves and towards Christ.
The thing that stands out for me, the thing that has always stood out, is "to be as Christ to those we meet; to find Christ within them." This reminds me of a story about when St Aidan arrived at a small village in Northern England. He and his follower came upon a village and noticed a shrine next to a well. The villager explained how they were without water for a long time. When the well was mystically revealed, the villagers were so moved, they built the shrine to worship the water deity who saved their lives. Aidan and his followers listened intently to the story. When the villagers finished telling their tale, Aidan and his followers affirmed much of it. They said, "It's good that you're thankful for the water. It's good that you recognize the need for worship. It's a good thing to acknowledge that someone outside of yourselves was responsible for saving your village and providing the water. However, let's tell you about Christ. He is the real identity to your water deity. He is the creator of all that is seen and unseen. He is the one who brought this water to your village." Well, that last part was a bit of a paraphrase, but that's basically how the story goes. What I like about the story is that St Aidan and his followers went looking for Christ in those they met. And they actually found him. Can we imagine what this country would look like if that way of seeing was the dominant way when the followers of Jesus came to the "New World?"
Well, since we can't jump in the TARDIS and change history, we can learn from this past mistake. I no longer look at people and think that they are God's enemies. I look for Christ within them, expecting to find him. And, more often than not, I found him. In the Lindisfarne Community, we are intentional in our looking for Christ in others.
My wife once said (from being inspired by the Dave Matthews Band song, The Space Between), that we need to learn how to remove all of the junk in the space between ourselves and other people. We have to remove all of the past experiences and greet each person on a blank space; not to lump them in with our past negative experiences.
Now, granted, this is extremely difficult. Our learned nature is to mistrust people, to protect ourselves from getting hurt (whether physically, emotionally, etc.). But when we see the life of Jesus, we see him looking for the Light of God within the people he encounters. And he did this knowing full well of the falseness that was there. But he also knew that the falseness was not who they were at the deepest level. That is how I see this Understanding. We have to look past all of the falseness and see Christ deep within ourselves and others.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC