May You Live in Christ


I remember learning from Stephen Covey in his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the second habit was to “begin with the end in mind.” The phrase interested me but I must admit, it sounded like a Chinese proverb asking, “what is the sound of one hand clapping?” In other words, it really didn’t get to me although it was about the need for vision.

Of course, I was young when the book appeared and the “end” was not on my radar. I was beginning at the beginning. My wife and I had four young boys and I was the minister of a growing church where there was never a dull moment. I didn’t think much about a vision.

In fact, the idea of beginning at the end was not only counter-intuitive but my idea of beginning was a cup of coffee and get going. Having a vision however, was much talked about. Certainly, our church was no different having retreats and consultants and thoughtful discussions in developing a mission, or vision, or core beliefs statement. It was fuzzy at best.

Fast forward when the time came where Mary and I could travel without four boys in a van. I began leading groups to wonderful places where religious sites were not only historical but our faith came alive. One stop was Rome and Archbishop Kurtz provided tickets to go underneath the Basilica to view the bones of St. Peter. Referred to as a “holy site” we stood tightly together on excavated flooring while looking fifty feet above to the high altar of St. Peter.

Rather than experiencing claustrophobia, from this dark, stuffy spot, I was overwhelmed by the reality of our life in Christ. On St. Peter’s altar above, bread is broken, as it was on the ground standing two thousand years ago. There on the golden altar above, and before me—the bones of St. Peter—time, space and memory all bow down to the presence of the Risen Lord. This holy site was more than a reminder. It was a vision.

The vision touched my soul communicating in a simple but profound phrase, Vivatis in Christo! May You Live in Christ! It was no doubt a first century greeting amongst those early persecuted Christians. Liturgical scholars also think it may have been embedded within a blessing or dismissal from worship. It may well have been used in an early baptismal celebration or for that matter, the early Eucharist perhaps used these words when distributing the bread and wine. Point being, “May You Live in Christ” is a core belief.

My dad was a salesman and he was very persuasive at work and no doubt would use similar techniques in selling us on cleaning up our room, doing homework, finishing dinner—you name it. He was good. And often he would conclude his pitch by saying, “can you see what I am saying?” Well, in one sense we heard what he was saying, loud and clear. But by seeing what he was saying, provided a vision.

When saying, “May you live in Christ” we see what was heard two thousand years ago.

May You Live in Christ: Spiritual Growth Through the Vision of St. Peter was originally self-published as a farewell gift upon my retirement to St. Francis in the Fields. Now ten years later this book will be released in September as a revised edition by the Christian based publishing company, Elk Lake Publishing, Plymouth, Massachusetts.

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Robin Jennings

Robin T. Jennings is an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church, and an accomplished author, speaker and teacher who inspires his audiences with Biblical guidance and spiritual insights into everyday life. Whether he has the opportunity to speak to churches, businesses or organizations, Robin’s lifetime of work in spiritual transformation and renewal connects individuals with timely topics such as the importance of community, hope, identity and the search for meaning which are inevitably woven into his message.

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