It's in moments like this, when I look into the face of a homeless woman and see the risen Christ, that I know that the resurrection is real. Is the Christian Church dying? Always, but only dying so that it can rise again. We all have to do that. We have to die to death, so we can live for life; die to sin and brokenness, so we can live for healing and wholeness, die to hate and fear so we can live for love. In fact, that's what baptism is all about. In the ritual of baptism, we symbolically die with Christ, so that we can rise with Christ. In baptism, we let go of the old body—our old hurts, fears and failures—everything that is keeping us from rising above the old life and embracing a new one. Being baptized into the Christian life, professing a faith that is always evolving, joining a church that is always dying and rising, and letting the Spirit lead you on a journey that is always unfolding in new and unimaginable directions takes a lot of courage. If you join this church, you won't find easy answers to your questions. We will try to make it hard for you to keep your kindergarten faith, your domesticated Jesus. We want to challenge you to learn and to grow and to put Easter into action. As it says on our website, "if you want God to change your life, help us change the world." We are here to make the resurrection real. Would like to join us?
What Jesus brings into the city of Jerusalem is something very different from what we saw in the city of Chicago and what we have seen so far in this campaign. Into a city that is teeming with violence, Jesus comes as the Prince of Peace. Into a city that feeds on political power, Jesus brings spiritual power. Into an atmosphere of hate and fear, Jesus brings love and forgiveness.
When we think of how hard it is to let go of the things that make us feel significant and safe in this world, we don't want to hear that we have to give it all up in order to gain Christ. But look at the Apostle Paul and take heart. He doesn't have to renounce these things beforehand. Christ met him on the road to Damascus. He was going there with all his credentials in order to persecute Christians. Christ met him anyway. It was only after meeting Christ that Paul discovered that the things that used to make him feel good about himself could no longer do so. When Christ showed him how utterly unimportant all those things were, he didn't need them anymore. No longer relying on his own righteousness, he was saved by God's righteousness through his faith in Jesus Christ.
When we spend our time—as politicians often do—thinking that we are better, smarter, stronger, and more self-sufficient than other people, we are not likely to bother to look up and see the God who is looking down and loving us no matter how wrong or stubborn or insufferable we can sometimes be. We just have to get it in our heads that going home to God is not a weakness. Admitting that we were wrong and begging forgiveness is not a failing. Despite what the culture and the candidates teach us, being humble is not a sorry lack of self-confidence. It is a most amazing gift of grace. The only loss you incur is the loss of your false self, your proud self, and you didn't need it anyway. In losing your pride, you gain your soul.