Let me see your hands. I am checking for splinters, proof of cross- carrying.
Let me see your hands. I am looking for blood under your nails, proof of crucifixion.
Let me see your hands. I am feeling for callouses, clues that that you have done the hard work of building the kingdom of God.
No more talk of being the hands and feet of Christ if your hands are not raised when it counts, if we do not find your feet in unjust places, in confined spaces where bodies do not move as freely, pinned down by poverty or prison or prejudices so strong. Why is the body of Christ here and not there? Where is the body of Christ and why is it not seen everywhere, all the time and for all people. Who is the body of Christ for?
“For God so loved the world…”
To be sure, true Christian community is formed by the hands of Christ. We come together because of him and we are brought together for him, his purpose and pleasure. I know you are given a program when you enter the church. But, Jesus is the reason– not just for the Christmas season– but for our gathering. We come because he has called us. We come by invitation– not of our planning but his prodding, his pricking of our hearts. We are guided and ushered in by his very hands.
We do not come to church because it is our turn to serve, because we sing in the choir or serve as a deacon, a greeter or an usher. We come to church because we are apart of Christ’s body. And we can no more be away from each other as the hand from the arm or the eye from the face. We are dismembered and disfigured without each other.
So, we come together to be made whole. Christ’s call for unity facilitates this healing process. It was his prayer:
20 “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17.20-23, NRSV).
His hands were never meant to exclude or prevent anyone. Still, we attempt to substitute our hands for his. Use his red- lettered words as our own. Raise our hands to object and to question the presence of another. There is no shortage of hands here. But, there is no “us” and “them” in Christ Jesus.
No, it is Christ who calls us all together. The Great Shepherd gathers us together, leaving ninety- nine for just one more (cf. Matthew 18.12). This is what his hands do. It is we who attempt to hold him back in an effort to grow our little corner kingdoms. Because we really want the whole world to be in our hands.