- Written by Pastor Tobias
- Category: Sermons
We are called to build a prophetic Church for an all too often warring world.
Yes! We are called to be prophets and peacemakers and to lift before the world a vision of what could be possible, were we to confess our sin and brokenness – all that separates us from the love of God and from our fellow humans. We are called to lift before the world a vision of what could be possible if we lay claim to the love that transcends differences such as race and class and culture; age, gender, sexual orientation; citizenship in different countries and even religious differences, with the help of God.
As Christians the foundation of our prophet and peacemaking identity is found in how God in Christ has connected us to God’s own self forever – through the promise made possible by baptism that grafts us onto the promises made by God to Abraham so long, long ago, when God said that Abraham’s descendants would be more numerous than the stars.
Secured in this foundation of our identities in Christ and Christ’s love we can, without timidity, discover our prophetic voices and join Jesus is decrying the powers of this world that seek to oppress through fear and threat of death, and point to a still more excellent way, a still more excellent vision.
There is a warring vision presented here in today’s gospel reading that speaks to our world looking on with dismay, sadness, and horror at yet another war taking place, this time in Ukraine because of the Russian offensive that began some weeks ago. There is warring vision presented here in today’s gospel reading that speaks to our world in which we find some states of our very own country passing laws that seek squelch all the good efforts we have made in the last decades to carve out room and safety for our gay and transgender siblings.
This warring vision from our gospel lesson, presented to a warring world, juxtaposes the desire of the tetrarch ruler Herod to consolidate and enforce his earthly power with Jesus, who like prophets before him, stands in opposition to the power-mongering ways of earthly rulers. Jesus, who responds to Herod’s threats by declaring that he will not stop his work of healing those who need healing and casting our demons from those who are afflicted. The answer to efforts to oppress and silence truth and efforts to heal and reconcile what needs healing and reconciling, is always a definitive “no.” War and its efforts to clutch power at will; oppression of people in the fullness of their identities; these are never justifiable, except to the Herods of the world.
And when, at times, war is inevitable – that is to say that we can find no diplomatic way forward in which to further the collective humanitarian interests of humankind; when war is inevitable – such as when the oppressor Russia goes unprovoked on the offensive into Ukraine, making flimsy excuses for their violence and the people of Ukraine and their allies have no choice but to respond with violence in order to protect themselves; when war is inevitable, then we can be sure that the God who in Christ seeks by grace and mercy to justify our sins and the sins of humanity – this God of grace who like a Mother Hen seeks to watch over her offspring, weeps and mourns with the struggling people of this earth, even as God longs for us to carve a pathway towards peaceful resolution.
No, war is never justifiable, but our justifying Savior can work over even such disasters as war, when they become inevitable.
So, too, does can the Mothering Hen look after us as a nation and as states when we lose our clear-headed purpose of building liberty and justice for all. Not liberty for a narrow vision of what some believe humanity should look like or how we should live our lives, but an expansive vision that gives room for all people, including gay and transgender people, to have a chance at building lives of joy with safety assured.
Yes, we are carried in the stream of God’s mercy made possible by Jesus who with prophetic voice stands against the oppressors of Jesus’ time and of ours. Yet Jesus is so much more than a prophet! And it is in knowing Jesus as Savior, knowing that Jesus has in love acted with saving grace on our behalf; it is in confessing that we are baptized and therefore no power earthly or otherwise has dominion over us – not even death can take away this love; it is in this knowledge that we find the freedom and courage to lift up a vision of love claiming justice in opposition to the warring and oppressing ways of the world.
When we hear Jesus say in this gospel text that on the third day Jesus will finish his work. Then, then do we remember who is really at work to end the war of this warring world. To bring an eternal peace that is beyond suffering. Who calls us in our baptismal identity to rise up for the work of peace and justice and love for all humankind. Amen.