Rock Bridge Christian Church, 11.24.13
This week I was thinking about how everyone should have a crazy uncle.
In my life that was and still is Crazy Uncle Marcus, my mom’s older brother. Marcus has a smile that takes over his whole face and an infectious laugh and an ornery streak. When we were young, he was always ready to play anything. He’d toss me a ball for hours on end or teach me how to put a worm on a fishing hook or make up fun games to play.
One game in particular had to do with climbing to the top of things. We’d race up a big rock. The first person to the top would stand at the summit, lift our arms in victory above our heads and yell out “Champion of the People.”
I love Champion of the People moments.
When I was in college I played basketball for the Missouri State Lady Bears. And I tell you, it was good to be a Lady Bear. I still miss that totally embodied fist pump I could give after hitting a big three point shot, and the addictive feeling of success that washed over us victory after victory. In four years we won several conference championships, played in three NCAA tournaments and won the WNIT. It feels so good to be a success.
There’s a certain image I have of a champion, a certain idea of what I think a champion should look like: bigger, bigger, faster, faster, stronger, stronger, richer, richer.
And there are certain things one would assume about a Sunday called the Reign of Christ, things that don’t have much to do with a mostly naked man hanging on a cross.
There’s a certain image we have of a champion, a king, a Messiah. There’s a certain way we think a savior should look.
And then we hear the biblical story, and the images of success that we carry most days of our lives are turned completely around. Trappist monk Thomas Merton puts it this way: Be anything you want. Be madmen, drunks, and bastards of every shape and form. But at all costs avoid one thing: success.”
The journey with Jesus, the journey of faith and life, the inner journey toward peace, toward hope, toward joy asks us to hear this message. Poorer, poorer, slower, slower, smaller, smaller. My friends, Jesus was a champion of the people, and this is what he looked like.
Each Sunday we have the chance to participate with Jesus in this countercultural work too. Instead of keeping our resources, instead of accumulating our riches, we give them away. Today it is my privilege to welcome you to the Joy of Giving.