Habemus Altare

To be a Christian is to be very closely united to Christ as living Lord, not alone, but in the fellowship of the Church. It means an existence in which our self-centredness is constantly challenged and defeated. The more Christ becomes your true centre, the less can your own selfish pride be the centre. The more you are drawn into the fellowship of those who belong to Christ, the less are you entangled by your selfish pride.

That is why again and again the Christian life has been called a “death to self”; it is the growth in us of Christ’s own self-giving unto death. The sacraments depict this: Baptism was from the beginning the means whereby the convert died to the old life whose centre was the self, having been buried symbolically beneath the water, he stepped out into a new life whose centre was Christ in the midst of the Church’s fellowship. Holy Communion deepens our unity with Christ who, through the media of bread and wine, feeds us with himself. But it is always his self as given to death. It is his broken body, his blood poured and offered.

These are the great realities upon which Christian people have laid hold. Some have grasped them once, and forgotten them. Some have grasped them only in a conventional and unreal way. Some have grasped them, and courageously try to be true to them among much conflict with the reassertions of self and pride. Some have grasped them, and have shown it in lives in which, notwithstanding some humiliating failures, Christ really has been apparent.

It all happens through Calvary judging us, Calvary bringing forgiveness to us, and Calvary defeating the pride which rules us.

The Rt. Rev. Michael Ramsey in Introducing the Christian Faith
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