Take Me As I Am, Summon Out What I Shall Be

During communion at Mass in my parish this past Sunday, we sang a song that had this simple refrain: “Take, O take me as I am. Summon out what I shall be. Set your seal upon my heart and live in me.”

The words of that refrain repeated in my head all Sunday. Then, during my morning prayer yesterday, I picked up my Common Prayer book (Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne et al). The prayer for the day contained a quote by Catherine Booth, a 19th Century preacher and co-founder of the Salvation Army, that included the words, “let the love of Christ, which is in you, have free course to run out in all conceivable schemes and methods for the souls of men.”

As I sat with both the words of the song and the Booth quote, what I thought of was Michelangelo and his David. When asked how he crafted his masterpiece, Michelangelo’s offered a simple description: he fixed his attention on the marble and then “chipped away all that wasn’t David.”

That is what God does with us. Looks at what we are and helps us chip away those parts that keep us from being all that we can be. Our task is to let God mold us, to let the love of Christ have free course in us.

The other thing that stuck me as I sat with this image is that God molds each of us to be who “[we] shall be.” That is, I pray to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world. But I am not meant to be Christ-but-not-Susan. Rather, I am meant to be as Christ, but in my distinctive way. Each of us is meant to be all the we can be, to be as Christ in our own distinctive way. Each of us is created in God’s image, but we are not identical; there is a unique face of God in each of us.