Mystical Body Foreword
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Mystical Body Foreword
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Bishop Douglas Blackwell

Bishop Blackwell, Ron and MadelineBishop Blackwell writes, "We are given in this book a very helpful, and challenging devotional overview of the Mystical Body and the fundamental Biblical and theological concepts of "The Mystical Body of Christ." Here we have a variety of lenses by which we can gain a fresh and focused view of God in Christ, ourselves, others, the Church, and the culture in which we live."✞

C. S. Lewis

C.S.Lewis Profile"C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) the British novelist, poet and Christian apologist at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities reminds us in one of his letters, written over fifty years ago, that 'the New Testament does not envisage solitary religion for the Church is not a human society of people united by their natural affinities, but the Body of Christ in which all members, however different, (and God rejoices in the differences and by no means wishes to iron them out), must share the common life, complementing and helping one another, precisely by their differences.' The Mystical Body of Christ is a study book. It contains helpful questions for personal and group reflection. I am glad that we have been reminded of the scope, the grandeur, the vitality and the saving dynamics of "The Mystical Body of Christ." This Mystical Body Foreword was written by our friend and colleague The Rt. Rev. Douglas C. Blackwell, The former Bishop of Trent-Durham, in the Anglican Diocese of Toronto in 1998. It is dedicated to Ron's late wife Audrey Kathleen Meacock, (June 3rd, 1948 - January 19th, 1993) and all other members of the Mystical Body on Earth and in Heaven.

Mystical Body Christ

The UniverseThe mystical body of Christ contains many emanations in its early church model at multiple levels of this interesting and vital concept. The church struggles to find its place in a new age. It casts around looking for a working model to enable it not just to survive but to grow gracefully. Rather than tinkering with the mechanics of the institutional church, we might better look at the Early Church model of the Mystical Body of Christ. This is based on 1 Corinthians 12.27 where Saint Paul writes, "Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." The Christian theologian and Church Father Clement of Alexandria (150-215 AD) in the early third century who was influenced by classical Greek philosophy and literature spoke of "the spiritual Body which is the holy Church." The French theologian William of Auxerre (1145-1231 AD) was the first to distinguish "the natural Body of Christ" and "the Mystical and gratuitous Body of Christ," where the word "gratuitous" or "free of charge" refers to the grace of God. The mystical body of Christ is vital and relevant for Christians today.

Many Emanations

Mechanical EngineThere are about twenty references to the "Body of Christ" in the New Testament. For example, Saint Paul writes in Romans 7.4, "So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, so that we might bear fruit for God." Belonging to the Body of Christ is a way of producing spiritual fruit for God. Referring to the Holy Communion 1 Corinthians 10.16 reads, "Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?" And the negative side of this in 1 Corinthians 11.29 is, "For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves."

Mystical Reality

Stained Glass Baptism FontThis mystical reality, therefore, propels small groups, institutions and even denominations toward the great vision of the universal, global and Heavenly Body of Christ. In the words of Ephesians 4.12, "to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up." It quietly energizes today's leadership, clergy, lay leaders and ordinary Christian men and women. In the Mystical Body of Christ, we rediscover a vision of a church that is no longer encumbered with buildings, she is set free to be God's hands and feet in the world.

Hungry for God

Early Church ModelDavid Watson (1933-1984 AD) the British evangelist and author wrote, "Two thousand years ago, it was the person of Christ that was compellingly attractive, not the individual disciples with all their blemishes. Today, it is the Body of Christ, when deeply united in love, and not individual Christians, that can most of all make one hungry for God."

Christ Church Body

Church RuinThe relationship of today's church and Christ's Church Body is vitally important to the Christian and the local community today. There are probably have many questions concerning Christ's Church Body. What is it (better the feminine "she") and what does she do? Is "the Body" the same as the congregation we attend on Sunday or is there something more? What does Christ's Church Body have to do with the man named Jesus who lived in 30 AD? What does Christ's Church Body have to do with the Christian today? What is Christ's Church Body anyway?

Real Church

armOur mistake today is to imagine that our church is the same as the New Testament Church. Saint Paul explains how the Early Church worked as a body in 1 Corinthians 12.12-14, "Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit to form one body — whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free — and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so, the body is not made up of one part but of many." The phrase "we were all baptized by one Spirit" may also be translated as "we were all baptized with or in one Spirit."

Early Christian

The Body of Christ meant the church to the early Christian community. The Apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 1.24-27, "for the sake of his (Christ's) body, which is the church." For the first three centuries after Christ, there were very few church buildings as we would know them and most of these have been lost today. In most instances, intimate family groups nourished faith in the sanctity of their own homes. Church, as we now describe it, is several times removed from the original Early Church model of Christ's Body. "Can you describe Christ's Church Body in your own words."

Female Body Christ

Jesus LaughingThe female body of Christ is seen in the female term 'church' which gives her special meaning and characteristics both in the New Testament and today. The word Church is normally used today of a building where Christians meet but it is, in fact, more appropriately the name for a group of people who are called apart to worship the Lord. The New Testament Greek word for church is ecclesia. The word "Ecclesia" has two parts, "ek" meaning "out of" and "klesis" meaning "a calling." These combine to make church an assembly called apart to the Lord. It translates an older Hebrew word "kahal" meaning "assembly". These words for "church" are feminine and it is, therefore, appropriate to describe the church as the female body of Christ and use the word "she." That being said, many people today still refer to the church as "it."

Female Entity

Girl with plant in handsIn the New Testament writings, the church is invariably a small local worshipping group of Christians rather than a building. The body of Christ is, however, the ideal ministry model. She was the New Testament church before buildings for worship and is also God's choice in the Twenty-First Century for our church. This female body, when rediscovered, will provide what we now call "our church" with a clear and focused vision for the future. We shall see what we can be.✞

Human Body Christ

Girl kissing SphinxThe human body of Christ and its male, female, non-human and non-gender aspects are examined in detail. Though this comes as a surprise to many people, God has chosen the human female form to describe the ideal faith community called the Body of Christ. The New Testament sometimes called this female entity, "the bride of Christ" and Saint Paul considered her as female. He wrote, "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word."

Non-Human Characteristics

String TheoryThough the Bible generally describes the Body of Christ as female, this does not limit her in any way. The Body of Christ, like God, is not strictly speaking a human entity at all except that she is as close as we can understand God from our perspective. The Body of Christ may exhibit other male, female or non-human characteristics too. The human Body of Christ bears masculine features because her head is none other than Christ himself.

Best Kept Secret

Chalice and GrapesThe Body of Christ exists in many different forms today. Christ's Body in the sacramental elements the bread and wine at the holy table are neither masculine nor feminine but of vegetable origin. We may see the body of Christ as a microscopic fertilized egg or as a gigantic heavenly chorus. She is the most complex and best-kept secret in the Universe!

"Mystical Body Foreword"
by Ron Meacock © 2019

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