Sunday, August 13, 2006

His Name is Christopher

His Name is Christopher

His name is Christopher. He is named after that now demoted saint, who is said to have “carried” Christ on his shoulders over perilous streams in Germany centuries ago, before bridges made such travel somewhat safer. For a fee, weary travelers could engage the services of a stalwart sort to carry them and their belongings across rivers and streams especially in stormy times. On one especially stormy night, it is said that the heroics and humanitarian work of an especially conscientious practitioner of this kind of service discovered, he was carrying none other than our Lord as he carried the poorest to safety; someone unable to pay. The story is dismissed by historians in the church, but the name and the myths have stuck. Hence the name Christopher means literally “Christ carrier”.

But the Christopher I speak of is a young man who had been around the block a couple of times. I’m afraid he fell victim to drug abuse. He developed quite a reputation around town. He came to a priest one time as he struggled to move away from the old ways of sin that were leading him toward death. There were conversations that led into the small hours of the night because the priest thought he was worth saving. Eventually he began to read several books the priest thought would be helpful. And they were.

But ultimately Christopher began to read the Bible. He was led somehow to read the Sermon on the Mount and the Gospel of Mark. Imagine the young man’s surprise when he discovered in those few pages how much God loves him, forgives him, and seeks eagerly to reconcile him to the entire community of faith.

So now he wants to be baptized. He wants to put to death the old way of life that leads to sin and death. Indeed he wants to embrace and hold fast the New Life that he can have in Jesus. He can share that life as a peer counselor with others who are struggling to overcome their addictions to drugs and alcohol.

The priest asked him what it was that finally did the trick of conversion. “Reading the Bible”, he said without a moment’s hesitation. “There is so much love and forgiveness in that Book and it sounds so different from those who seem to use it as a weapon for judgment. It was Good News to the likes of me to discover how much God loves even ME!”

Christopher is a Christ carrier indeed. And for Chris, Jesus is the Bread of Life.

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