Christians have gathered for thousands of years on this night to remember the history of Salvation. To remember that no matter how dark and cold the world is, no matter how often we are afraid, no matter what pain we must endure, there is Light. There is Fire. There is Hope. And there IS Resurrection.
We see it- if we look- we see it in the joy of a new mother.
We see it when we refuse to answer violence with more violence.
We see it when those who are wronged refuse to pursue revenge.
We see it in the face of our beloved- a hope that will never die.
We’ve come close to giving in.
We’ve created weapons that could destroy this planet. We’ve created laws based on fear and not hope.
We’ve built walls and fences- both physically and with words of hatred toward one another.
We’ve been victims of fear mongering.
We’ve been guilty of fear mongering.
We’ve looked past those in need because it makes us uncomfortable.
We’ve turned other human beings into evil creatures in our minds.
We’ve created idols.
We’ve become narcissists in the way we feed our egos with the illusions of power and wealth and status. Sadly, I think I have to say we’ve not learned that much in 2000 years.
For example, we have turned the fully human and fully divine Jesus into Superman- someone so far above us that we can never get close. We’ve glorified him so much that the glory of his humility- his humanity- means nothing. If you listen to some of our brother Christians, you might as well believe that some alien visited our planet from Krypton- and we need to be very afraid of him.
I saw Batman vs Superman today. I loved it. Because I love Superman. Always have.
Superman represents the power and strength of hope- the might of the good. And that is helpful and hopeful for us as human beings. He represents our better nature. He also represents a fighter- a soldier- who uses his powers to crush the enemy.
For many Christians, Jesus IS Superman.
But I think it’s worth noting that there can be no comparison.
Jesus forbids violence. Jesus refuses to defend himself. Jesus sits and eats with people who are seen as the dregs of society- people that many of us scorn today. In this town filled with Christians, why do we have a $4 million dollar animal shelter, but no homeless human shelter?
Jesus doesn’t fight for justice- he becomes it. He becomes it by embracing those who are downtrodden, broken, diseased overlooked and alone.
It is no accident that women discover the empty tomb first. Women were among the least of Jewish society- suddenly become the vital heralds of a miracle- exactly what the Kingdom of God is about.
“The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.”
“He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly”
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the Children of God.”
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth.”
This is crazy talk.
Crazy enough to get you executed. Even today.
We are here tonight to celebrate the light that has come into the world- and we are here also to pray that the darkness will not overcome it.
Because there is no guarantee- that’s part of the definition of HOPE.
If we knew it was all going to be ok, we could just go home and watch tv or Youtube or Facebook and forget that we have a job to do.
We forget often enough anyway. I know I do.
But we do have a job to do. What’s that job? To imitate Jesus. As fully as possible. As best we know how. Because our baptism unites us with him in his pain, his death and his resurrection. It’s not about following the rules in order to get to heaven- it’s about imitating the Master so that we can change the world.
Just like him.
By being crazy- at least in the eyes of the world.
The Biblical scholar NT Wright said, “You can fulfill the commandments of the Bible better by falling in love with God than by trying to obey him. The Christian faith is not a business transaction. It’s not an arranged marriage where you receive a dowry of riches for compliance. Christianity only works if you’re in love.”
And an alien is hard to love- unless you’re Lois Lane.
My point is simply this: Jesus is lovable. And loving Jesus helps us love each other. And loving each other-unconditionally- is what will change this world.
Darkness. Light. Cold. Fire. Fear. Hope. Pain.
All a part of the mix. All meant to be part of our human experience. And resurrection?
Well, that only happens if we sacrifice our egos.
Just like Jesus.