the church must acknowledge the painful realities that too many women face on a day-to-day basis over the course of their lives. We must be a safe space where awful truths can be shared with all the accompanying emotions. We must believe those who find the courage to tell us their stories.
We did that last week with Emma, remember? All it takes is open arms and willingness to hold on and not let go. Why do we make loving God and being loved by God so complicated? You welcome the child or you don’t. And when you welcome the child, you welcome Jesus.
Then Christianity will become the religion of the Roman Empire and a Messiah who spends all of his time delivering the poor, the lame and the outcast will not do. Eventually, Jesus will lose his olive skin and dark hair, in favor of something a fairer and more blonde. The changes will not just be cosmetic. Jesus will be used to justify everything from putting down peasant uprisings to launching crusades. To keep his teachings pure, inquisitions will torture and torment the poor and burn women suspected of witchcraft.
But what we have to work not miss with our 21st century eyes and ears is that she should not have been in this space at all. Women don’t talk to men in public. Certainly, when whatever request they have made is denied, they do not challenge the decision. Nevertheless, she persists. She is powerless, yet she refuses to behave that way. She has no recourse, but she refuses to let the matter drop.
Worshiping at the altar of individualism run amuck, we are rewarded with a moral superiority that allows us, if we so choose, to blame the poor for being poor, women for being raped and people of color for being shot. We have learned to use the very scripture that is intended to tell us the story of God’s great love for all of us in ways that make it an ally of the very evil we are called to resist.
In reality, we have input into the actions of one person. Namely, ourselves. How then do we hear the call this morning to be imitators of God?
If God is still speaking, then certainly God is still sending. Sending us to the places we go and the people we see each day. Now, as much as any time in history, the whole of our human community is in dire need of a message of hope, grace, love, acceptance, justice and mercy.
Now is the time for you to be the missionary that never has been yet
And yet must be.
Do I know what happened an that first Easter? How the stone was rolled away? What it was like for those disciples to encounter Jesus after the crucifixion? No, I don’t know. But when I hear about and see people doing the kinds of things that I believe Jesus would be doing if he were here with us now, I cannot help but think that he is here with us now, alive.
I don’t have to tell you all reasons and all the ways that you could choose to despair. From gun violence and school shootings to sexual abuse and human trafficking, the reasons to turn away from the world are numerous. Yet, God does not turn away from us. God turns to us with a certain kind of empathy to say surely the days are coming. . . when God will put God’s law within us, and will write it on our hearts; and God will be our God, and we shall be God’s people.