God’s work and ours

This autumn, as many return to work or education having enjoyed at least a few weeks’ summer break, I am reminded of this famous and beautifully crafted prayer;

Jesus, Master Carpenter of Nazareth,
who on the cross through wood and nails did work our whole salvation,
wield well your tools in this your workshop,
that we who come to you rough hewn
may by your hands be fashioned to a truer beauty and a greater usefulness; for the honour of your holy name. Amen.

It uses Jesus’ earthly profession to celebrate his life-saving death and reflect on his ongoing work, carpenter-like reshaping the world. However, I find it a challenge to think that we are his “raw material” and his “work in progress” is us! The desire that we might be useful and attractive in his service resonates deeply with our own longing to be better disciples, not least in our daily working lives.

This prayer always reminds me of the equally famously practical words of St Theresa of Avila;

Christ has no body now but yours,
no hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on the world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.

Someone once said “Christians are people who allow God to do things to them so they might do things for other people”. As a bishop I have the great excitement of meeting lots of people whom God is changing and who are making a difference to their communities. You are those people, Christ’s body here on earth.

May God continue to bless His work in us.

With my love, prayers and best wishes,

+John Brixworth