A snowy weekend, spent in serving others: yesterday, a meal for a friend whose husband is in the hospital; time spent listening and loving on that friend.  Today, taking a friend’s kids for the day, playing in the snow with them, then gathering ’round the table for a home cooked meal.

But our service this morning at church stopped me in my do-gooder tracks. My quite progressive protestant church prayed an ancient prayer of St. Patrick:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.


We sang “Christ, be the Center,” and my heart ached. And that same Christ whispered, are you serving me? Or pleasing people? They look quite similar. Only he can see past the exterior, and in perfect love, he invited me to join him in examining my motives.

I find them mixed. I act not just to please people, but out of genuine love. My love language of cooking took form as a scratch chocolate cake for an 8 year old’s birthday, homemade beef stew for a friend, homemade pot roast for family and friends. My children, who had been away all weekend, were home tonight, eating pot roast and thanking me out loud for expressing my love to them in this way. I was not looking for approval so much as expressing affection. But am I doing it for people, or for Christ? I want Christ to be the center.

In this moment of questioning my own motives, Jesus comes steady and puts his arm around me. What you do for the least of these, you do for me, he reassures. This weekend I experienced “Christ in the hearts of all who love me,” and was able to be Christ to them–with an hour sledding with children or with pot roast and chocolate cake.

Christ, be the center. My prayer today, and in the days to come.