Sermon for the Second Sabbath of Christmas
What is your idea of the perfect human? What characteristics, practices and speech define the best person possible? How do you think your vision fits with Jesus’ view of idealized humanity?
PHILIPPIANS 2.5-11, NRSV Christ Jesus: who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death– even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
- Our typical understanding: humans are to overcome our weakness and brokenness, to be unaffected by the problems of life and to become gods
- Jesus’ model of ideal humanity: humans are to embrace our brokenness as the pathway to healing ourselves and others
- Be Relevant. If other people do not recognize value in us for what we offer or provide, we are prone to feel as if we do not matter. When we stop being relevant to others, do we still matter? Who are we outside of our profession? Do we matter when we’re not appreciated for our skills, money or service? Remedy: Find your inherent meaning as God’s beloved daughter or son
- Be a Spectacular Individual. The distorted ideal of humanity includes the idea that you have achieved the pinnacle of being when you are an island unto yourself, having no need of others. Remedy: Recognize your own need for community and enter into it. Adopt a willingness to get messy with others. Live your brokenness with others.
- Be Powerful. We buy into the myth that when we have more power and control over others, the better our life is and the superior our being is. Remedy: Practice releasing your power and control and giving others the opportunity to have impact in your life. Stop seeking to be God to others and watch for God to show up in them instead
Parable of the Wounded Messiah
Rabbi Joshua ben Levi (who lived in the first half of the third century), while meditating near the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai, was visited by the Prophet Elijah. “When will the Messiah come?” asked Joshua. “Ask him,” replied the Prophet. “The Messiah is at the gates of Rome, sitting among the poor, the sick and wretched. Like them, he changes the bindings of his wounds, but does so one wound at the time, in order to be ready at a moment’s notice.”
- From The Wounded Healer, pages 81-82. Originally a Talmudic legend from the tractate Sandhedrin