All We Can Bring

[Orthodox Christian Mission Center, Summer 1998]

How can we transfigure the world?

The world presents itself to us damaged, restless, wronged and wronging, bent of heart and broken of spirit. We present ourselves, come to be its healers, and we are bent and broken as well. How can we transfigure the world? An old Western prayer of confession says, “There is no health in us.”

We healers come, who have no health. There are many things we lack: power, money, status, size. Only one treasure do we have, the One Who was broken. He is the only thing we have to share.

This sounds surprising. Certainly we have plans and programs. We can give a loaf of bread. We can bring bricks and medicines. We can bring many material things to patch the gaping tears in a material world.

We can and should. But anyone else could bring these things. The world believes that this is all it needs, that gold cures every ill. The world is glad to take our goods. It does not want to take our Lord.

But sickness broods in the heart and spreads its tendrils outward. The many worldly plans to bring goods without God, comfort without Christ, only slap a coat of paint on a crumbling ruin, whitewash a sepulchre. Given sufficient food and shelter, the world will continue on its way, a bit more well-fed and comfortable in its nest of cruelty and lies. We know this because it is our story too.

How can we transfigure the world?

God breaks open ground in our hearts like a pickax going into rock. He transfigured Christ on a mountaintop, and made radiant all that humble flesh. And when that same body was lacerated, bruised, grimed with dust and crucified, He transfigured it again, and now death no longer has dominion over Him. This power transfigures us. There is no health in us, nothing He should desire. Except that He desires our brokeness, not our strength; He desires to heal, not approve. It is our sinfulness, our helplessness, that cries out to Him: Have mercy! Father, save! It is a cry that Love cannot refuse.

It is the brokeness of this world that cries out to us: Help us! And the sparks of God’s love in our heart respond. Yes, our fleshly hearts respond as well; our pride is hooked by sentimentality, simpering pity, daydreams of honored benevolence. But the ax goes in, making room for suffering love, love that sears until it can burst forth. One at a time, God reaches us; one at a time, we reach His people, now appearing as individuals with faces, no longer a vast and heedless, faceless world.

To each one we say, “We can bring you help and hope, feasts and comfort. But here is the most important thing we bring: a bit of bread and wine. This is where the world begins, and where it begins to make sense. This is a love that will rend you and compel you to love in turn. This is what transfigured the flesh of Jesus Christ, and transfigures our stubborn hearts day by day.

”Taste and see. We have found what transfigures the world.“

About Frederica Mathewes-Green

Frederica Mathewes-Green is a wide-ranging author who has published 10 books and 800 essays, in such diverse publications as the Washington Post, Christianity Today, Smithsonian, and the Wall Street Journal. She has been a regular commentator for National Public Radio (NPR), a columnist for the Religion News Service,, and Christianity Today, and a podcaster for Ancient Faith Radio. (She was also a consultant for Veggie Tales.) She has published 10 books, and has appeared as a speaker over 600 times, at places like Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Wellesley, Cornell, Calvin, Baylor, and Westmont, and received a Doctor of Letters (honorary) from King University. She has been interviewed over 700 times, on venues like PrimeTime Live, the 700 Club, NPR, PBS, Time, Newsweek, and the New York Times. She lives with her husband, the Rev. Gregory Mathewes-Green, in Johnson City, TN. Their three children are grown and married, and they have fourteen grandchildren.

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