AS MELTED WAX IS TO THE ROYAL SEAL
READ: Romans 12:1,2
Paul writes …“I urge you, then, brothers and sisters, remembering the mercies of God, to offer yourselves as a living sacrifice, consecrated and acceptable to God; that is the kind of worship, as sensible people, you need to be doing. Do not model your behavior on the contemporary world (remember written to 1st century Rome ) but let the renewing of your minds transform you, so that you may discern for yourselves what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and mature.” – Romans 12:1,2
Paul writes this inspired word to the people of first century Rome … referencing the values of the culture about them. Back in 12th century Europe, monastic writers read this passage and considered the values of the culture of their day. Back in the 40s and 50s and 60s of America, Christians read this passage and referenced the values of the culture of their day. And today – 2013 – we read these words once more. In Paul’s day, in medieval days of Christendom, in recent history of American Christianity, and today … we are, to a great measure, created by the cultural values that press upon us. And this is quite natural … yet, we in Christ are called upon and urged to be .. recreated by values that come from a heavenly culture, what Jesus referred to as the Kingdom or Realm of God.
Here at Greyfriars’ Abbey, we have a number of the Brothers who are artisans in calligraphy and illumination. You have all seen those decorated pages found in medieval manuscripts. Their craftsmanship is a beautiful blend of majesty and precision. One of their services is to create handcrafted, formal documents for the nearby Roman Catholic university. One day I was asked to help these Brothers with their work of creating diplomas for the PhD students. My work specifically was to melt the red sealing wax onto the parchment and then to “impress” into that wax, the ecclesiastical seal. IHS (which we choose to represent the Latin words, “Iesus Hominum Salvator”, (Jesus Savior of Humanity). With reverent and fearful care, I melted the wax and then pressed into the wax the image of the seal. Christian discipleship involves a process much akin to this … melting the wax of our souls, softening it, so that the image of Christ, His values, His concerns, His quality of love and mercy, might be “IMPRESSED” into the soul of our character and into the soul of our living. This is the most sacred and serious endeavor of experiencing the humility that leads to glory.
Through my years of pastoral ministry, I have observed how “little” most of us are truly transformed by our life in Christ. that is, transformed in our thinking, in our feelings about others, in our value systems, in our concerns and in quality of love and mercy. We tend to look for a form of Christianity that agrees with what we already have come to believe. Whether we come to Christ from a conservative perspective or progressive perspective, we tend to “impress” the values of our own cultural enclave upon the person of Christ … rather than melting the wax and allow the values of Christ to be impressed into our own character and living. We are all by nature, willful souls, reluctant even fearful to allow the hardened wax of our human nature to be softened … so that then the person of Christ can become “impressed” into our being.
I have found that there is a direct correlation between the practice of genuine humility and the maturing of a soul in the Spirit of Christ. Too often … we take the values of the culture about us … whether it be the culture of 1st century Rome, medieval Europe, the 40s, 50s, 60s, … of America, or the various subcultures of our present day … and dress them in Christian armor. No, my Loved Ones, we all need the genuine humility that is as melted wax … so that the character of Christ might be pressed into the soul of our character and into the soul of our living … a way of life, a way of understanding, that is far, far beyond the limits of any parochial, political, or social agenda. This is why each day we humbly confess and we hopefully change.
Brother Anthony of the Cross
— For the latest installment of the ongoing story, The Mystic Realms of Shadow Fox, just click … https://greyfriarsabbey.wordpress.com/the-mystic-reams-of-shadow-fox/ … The installments are separated by ********* with the latest being at the end (obviously).