God’s love is stronger than hatred; stronger than those who wish harm on others; stronger than the oppression of the rich and mighty; stronger than the war machines that feed our worst fears and weakest values; stronger than shoot in the head vigilantes; stronger than warped religious values that try to exclude others FOR ANY REASON.
We are the balm that lifts up the hurting, that is empathetic toward the poor, that heals the wounds of broken social orders, that brings caring to those in distress, that says NO to injustice and prejudice and pride and greed, that says YES to the kingdom of God and the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ our Savior.
Another facet of giving something up is to take something up. In fact, without taking something up, giving something up will probably fail. And so we move from give up to take up…today, take up the charge.
Grieving allows us to engage in a process that moves us from distress to stability: sadness, guilt and anger are transformed into joy, strength, and love. We move from paralysis to the power to live again.
Fear can certainly bring us closer to God. We pray to be saved when threatened and fearful. We hang on every beneficial moment as a gift from God. Our relief when we experience safety is often expressed as thanksgiving to God for safe journey.
There are keys to dealing with sadness. We might call them faith keys or kingdom keys that can heal the sadness we may feel from time to time, whether caused by outside forces or emerging from our own internal struggles.
When disruption happens, God does not fail, but remains steadfast. In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “I will not leave you orphaned.” Holy Spirit and human spirit are woven together. The Holy Spirit is like God’s breath becoming our breath: refreshing, encouraging, strengthening, empowering.
Now I want you to understand that none of this miraculous stuff jived with my understanding of the stars and planets or of the way things work in life. A baby who would show all people what God was truly like…how can that be?
What is remarkable about the Christmas story is not just that God chose to place all his glory, all his beauty, and all his truth in a human form, though that is remarkable enough – - it is that he chose such a simple human being in which to take on flesh.
This week the congregation enjoyed the children performing in a Christmas pageant. You too may enjoy this performance by watching the videos included here. The second video shows the “children’s sermon”, which followed the pageant.
While it is not possible to go into detail about all these theories that attempt to give meaning to the crucifixion, I would like to take you on a short tour of just a few of these theories, commonly known as atonement theories.
Perhaps we Protestants have lost something important in rejecting the traditions of Mary’s life and assumption. Perhaps we have taken the traditions too literally and not allowed the spiritual truths to emerge.
So, two questions come to mind for me this morning. One is, “Why should we trust God when the world is so messed up or our lives are derailed by sorrow or shame?” The second question is, “How are we investing in tomorrow? What will people fifty years from now have to say about us? Visionary or stuck?”