A homily for the people of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Mercer Island, WA.
The texts for the week are Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; John 2:13-22
I don’t know about y’all, but when I think of a hero, John McClane, the character portrayed by Bruce Willis in the Die Hard movies, often pops into my head. He was usually reluctant to get involved, but he always rose to the occasion, challenged the ineffective bureaucracy–because it’s always ineffective in the movies–and saved the day, and the lives of the people in the building, or the airport, or the whole city of New York.
What comes to your mind when you think of a hero?
Perhaps Superman, Captain America, or Wonder Woman come to mind, championing truth, justice, and the American Way. Perhaps Spartacus comes to mind, leading a revolt of slaves in Rome. Maybe King David, rising up from obscurity to defeat the badest of the bad enemies and then unite the people into one kingdom.
Imagine for a moment that you had been waiting for a hero like these to rescue you. You had been waiting a really long time, your whole life even. No, not just your whole life; for generations you have been waiting. Your parents, and their parents, and their parents’ parents, and so on. All waiting and telling the story of the one who would come.
Now imagine that your friends started telling you about a person who was this hero. He was even related to that most awesome hero David. And instead of leading people in open revolt, bringing the oppressors to their knees, he goes around talking about peace and love and forgiveness and faith. And then he dies. On a cross.
The hero not only died on a cross, but the hero predicted and even allowed his death on a cross.
Is this what the great hero does?
Is this what the savior does?
To those of us steeped in two thousand years of Christian tradition it may not seem that bizarre. After all, we currently live in an era of the reluctant hero and the antihero dominating popular culture.
But to the ancient people? To the ancient Jews awaiting the coming of Messiah, could the Messiah be someone who would die on the cross? Would you call it foolishness? I probably would.
And yet this is the foolishness of God that Paul is talking about in his letter to the church in Corinth that we heard this morning.
Come into the world to save it, only to die? Foolishness!
Give yourself over to the enemies of the people to be killed? Foolishness!
Allow the temple to be destroyed? Foolishness!
Rebuild it in three days? Foolishness?
And yet this is the foolishness of God which is wiser than our greatest wisdom.
When, Jesus told the leaders of the faith that the temple would be destroyed and rebuilt in three days, it was clearly foolishness.
The temple took FORTY-SIX years to build!!!
How can it be rebuilt in three days?
However, the temple that Jesus spoke of is not the half-millennium old building in Jerusalem.
The temple is where the world and God are most connected. This is what Jesus is talking about. This connection occurs in Jesus' own body.
In the person of Jesus, God comes into the world and walks in the world. God connects directly to the world and makes a human body into a temple.
In the foolishness of God, we are most closely connected to God through a body.
In the foolishness of God, that body was killed at the hands of the world.
In the foolishness of God, that body is the temple that was rebuilt in three days.
In the foolishness of God, that temple remains active in the world through the eternal members of the Body of Christ, the Community of Saints that form Christ’s Church.
In this mystery, in this foolishness, in this wonder that is Christ Crucified, Christ lives on.
When we come to the font and gather around the waters of baptism, we are joined to all the Church that ever was, is now, and ever will be in the mystery of Christ Crucified.
When we come to this table together, we join with all the Church that ever was, is now, and ever will be in proclaiming the mystery of faith, in proclaiming Christ Crucified.
When we go out into the world, as the body of Christ, we proclaim Christ Crucified in the world.
We do not go out into the world to be clever and through our cleverness convince people. We do not go out into the world with appeals to reason, science, and philosophy to prove our belief. We do not go out into the world to chastise, shame, cajole, intimidate, or otherwise harm any member of God’s Creation in the name of Christ.
We go out into the world to proclaim Christ Crucified.
When we smile at a stranger on the street, we proclaim Christ Crucified. When we gather with friends and celebrate one another, we proclaim Christ Crucified. When we work to make the world a more just place, we proclaim Christ Crucified. When we stand with our neighbor, we proclaim Christ Crucified.
When we reflect the love of God that goes beyond all understanding in our daily life, we proclaim Christ Crucified.
Proclaiming Christ Crucified is how we live each and every day.
As we continue through our Lenten journey of reflection and contemplation; our walk through the wilderness that prepares us for living into the mystery of the Cross, I invite us all to consider how we proclaim Christ Crucified in everyday life.
How do we, as the arms and legs, hands and feet, of the body of Christ proclaim Christ Crucified in our life?
How do we live out the primary commandments of loving one another and loving our neighbors as ourselves?
If we live each day proclaiming Christ Crucified, spreading the love of God to all creation, we assist God in making the Kingdom of God real.
Now and always.
May the grace of God show us the way of life that proclaims Christ Crucified and the courage to walk in the way proclaiming Christ Crucified each and every day.