Christened Reality

Christ Means “Anointed”

Christened Reality
Sunday, April 7, 2019

Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. When he had reached a certain place he passed the night there, since the sun had set. Taking one of the stones to be found at that place, he made it his pillow and lay down where he was. He had a dream: a ladder was there, standing on the ground with its top reaching to heaven; and there were angels of God going up it and coming down. And YHWH was there, standing over him, saying,

“I am YHWH, the God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac. I will give to you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. . . . Be sure that I am with you; I will keep you safe wherever you go, and bring you back to this land, for I will not desert you before I have done all that I have promised you.”

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Truly, God is in this place and I, I did not know.” He was afraid and said, “How awe-inspiring this place is! This is nothing less than a house of God, this is the gate of heaven!”

Rising early in the morning, Jacob took the stone he had used for his pillow, and set it up as a monument, pouring oil over the top of it. He named the place Bethel. —Genesis 28:10-19

I believe the Scriptures say that reality was christened or anointed from the very beginning, from the first moment of its inception. The Hebrew text describes the ritual of anointing, pouring oil over something to reveal its sacredness, starting with the Stone of Jacob, Beth El: “This is the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” Throughout the Bible we see a growing recognition of God’s all- pervasive, ever-invading Presence. Reality is soaked with Presence from the first meeting of Spirit and matter in the first line of the Bible (Genesis 1:1). The anointing oil doesn’t make anything sacred as such; it simply reminds both the anointer and the anointed of what was already the case.

The trouble is that many Christians have limited that anointing to the unique person of Jesus. Saying God’s presence is only here and not there, deciding what is anointed and what is not, is not our call to make. This entire world is soaked through and through with Christ, with divinity, like an electron planted in every atom. As Paul writes, “Creation retains the hope of being freed . . . to enjoy the same freedom and glory as the children of God. . . . We are all groaning in one great act of giving birth” (Romans 8:21-22). Unfortunately, most of us were not taught to see it that way. We thought we could torture animals, pollute the earth, kill people who we deemed not Christ-soaked because we thought it was up to us to decide: “She’s got the anointing and he doesn’t.” Only God decides what to anoint—which, thank God, is all of creation and all of humanity from the beginning. No exceptions. Our Christian word for all anointed reality is “Christ.”

Reference:
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Another Name for Every Thing podcast, episode 1 (February 24, 2019), https://cac.org/.

Image credit: Mary Magdalene’s Box of Very Precious Ointment (detail), James Tissot, 1886-1994, Brooklyn Museum, New York City, New York.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: If we are fully to avail ourselves of Mary Magdalene’s wisdom presence today, it will be, I believe, primarily through recovering a wisdom relationship with the ritual of anointing—that is, coming to understand it . . . as an act of conscious love marking the passageway into both physical and spiritual wholeness. —Cynthia Bourgeault

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