The gospel is the narrative that gives us freedom by allowing us to interpret our story. And it is not a story about someone else being your whipping boy. It is a story about God’s refusal to let our murdering of his Child finally determine our relationship to him. It is a story about his rejection of our rejection of him through the Cross–of his not allowing that Cross to have the final word, but undoing it in resurrection. And it is a story about God continuing to invite us through his Crucified-and-Resurrected-Child to come be reconciled to him. The Cross and Resurrection is a narrative that subverts and reinterprets all the stories we have been told, and continue to tell ourselves.
Like the world we are living in, I am fearfully and wonderfully flawed. We are all fearfully and wonderfully flawed. And life is too short to pretend otherwise. Let us love the particulars in their particularity, fearfully and wonderfully flawed and partial as our love is.
When introducing their 1992 song “Revolution,” hip-hop group Arrested Development’s front man Speech mentions those in previous generations who were tortured and killed for the freedom and dignity of generations to come. “They died for me, and they died for you,” he concludes. Might this expression shed some light onto the Bible’s claim that Jesus died “for us”?
Matthew’s Jesus tells the church, “You are the light of the world.” John’s Jesus proclaims that “I am the light of the world.” How can both be true? Because Jesus continues to be present in his church. Paul’s idea of the church as the body of Christ is not simply a crafty metaphor for the division of labor in the church, as most interpret it. Rather, it is an ontological description of our existence, character, and especially, our vocation. The Church is what happens when the creative Word of the Sermon on the Mount becomes flesh.
If it is Christ we have been baptized into, then all things are made new. We are given the resources to live without being afraid of giving too much, too soon, and looking too foolish. We have been dispossessed of our amnesia, our despair, and our self-preoccupation. We are free and able to welcome God’s insurgency like children. If our baptism has not rendered us free and able to so live, was it Christ we were baptized into? And if it wasn’t Christ we have been baptized into, what have we been saved from?
Preachers–this Sunday either give us words to chant down Babylon . . . or hang up your lyre on the willows with us.
The Christ hymn of Philippians 2–with its claim that Jesus took the form of a slave–evokes a flashback to the Exodus, when God took the form of a slave by identifying himself with an enslaved people.
Is Mark 9.42ff referring to cutting off literal body parts, or to expelling harmful people from the disciple community?