First Peter gives us two images to help us interpret our life together as Christian community: “spiritual milk” and “spiritual house.” Jesus is essential to both. Jesus, the word, is like mother’s milk for nursing babies; without it we die. This image of Christ being the nursemaid for newborn Christians reminds me of St. Julian’s lovely picture of Jesus as mother who feeds us with her own body. Yet, there is no sense here that we shall ever outgrow a need for this milk. For many of us, it comes through Scripture as it “reads” our lives and offers words of guidance.
Now the image for Christ shifts. Instead of being like milk, life-giving and good to taste, now Christ is like a stone, a foundation on which to build one’s life. Together, as living stones, we construct a holy dwelling that devotes itself to the care and feeding of all who know their thirst. It is a new humanity, mutually interdependent, joined together to provide a place for divine dwelling.
You and I are made to live in community, for that is where true life is to be found. God dwells in community as Holy Trinity. It is a life of self-giving, eternally pouring out life to enliven each expression of God’s presence. Best of all, it is not a closed community. We are invited to join the dance that we might become a house of love where all might dwell—“no longer stranger or a guest, but like a child at home,” as the old hymn puts it.