Words for the week -- are you God's type?
Each Thursday, our congregation, Peace, Alexandria, Va., sends an email. Besides announcements, it includes a main point from the previous week's sermon and a glimpse at my thoughts for the upcoming Sunday. Because I haven't had the bandwidth to blog lately, I am going to start including my "Words for the Week" here.
From the sermon for Feb. 17, 2013:
The devil began his temptation of Jesus with these words: "If you are the Son of God..." He asked Jesus to prove himself using means that would only prove the opposite. Jesus refused to believe the fiction the devil told him about his identity and stayed secure in what he knew. His identity as God's Son was proven in his ability to love people, not in his ability to gain security, power or fame.
The wilderness is not a place to escape our lives. Rather the wilderness is the place where all the external markers we so often rely on to make up our identity are stripped away so we can find our lives again. In the wilderness, it doesn't matter how perfect you look, what amount of money you have, or how successful your life has been. You stand naked and essential in front of God and learn that your core identity is as a beloved child of God. Knowledge of that love gives us the courage to resist the temptation to lose ourselves in the quest for security, fame and glory. What matters is that God loves us. The "if you are the Son of God..." becomes "Since I am a child of God..." We have nothing to prove.
The Gospel lesson for Feb. 24, 2013, Luke 13:31-35, shows Jesus freely headed toward Jerusalem even though he knows he will be killed there. Once again he identifies himself as a prophet (a theme in Luke's Gospel) and compares his ministry to a hen, gathering and protecting her chicks.
I'm going to switch gears a bit, however, and preach on the second reading, Philippians 3:17 -- 4:1. It comes near the end of the letter and starts with this: "Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us." I'm fascinated by the image here. The Greek word for "example" is "typos." That's the same root for the word "typewriter." I keep thinking of us as people who -- because we are made in the image of God -- stamp God's presence on the world like a typewriter stamps an image on a piece of paper. Or maybe the better thought is that we allow ourselves to be typed on by God in the ongoing story of God's merciful love. The important point, however, is that part of how broken, sin-bound people like ourselves type God onto the world by asserting God's power to forgive. Being God's type isn't to be arrogant or worthy -- it's to be humble and forgiven.
Be at peace.
Originally posted Feb. 21, 2013, at Barefoot Pastor. Republished with permission of the author. Find a link to Sarah Scherschligt's blog Barefoot Pastor at Lutheran Blogs.
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