Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Jesus is Comfortable in Your Skin

The other day my wife and I went with a friend to hear a very special concert. This year is the 100th anniversary of the birth of the great Bluesman Robert Johnson and the rock band Big Head Todd performed and hosted a tribute show at the CSO. In a sense Todd from BHT was more of a curator that night than a performer, deliberately playing a supporting role, as the legends Hubert Sumlin and David Honeyboy Edwards took the stage to play - Sumlin at 79 and Mr. Honeyboy at 95. When these two artists took up their instruments the first thing that struck me was how at home they were with their instruments; they were so comfortable in their skin. It is a really wonderfully enriching things to see people who are comfortable in their skin. The author, Ernest Hemmingway, in his reflection on his creative process in his book, A Moveable Feast, talked about how he liked to write while he was out and about at cafes and such and around people doing what they did well, whether it was fishmongering or what not - it gave him inspiration to see people comfortable in their skin.

If I were to tell you that Jesus was comfortable in his skin - God in the flesh - at home with human beings, totally undivided in his mission to bring redemption to the human race and this fallen world, you would be with me I think. There is something that sounds right about that thought; I could get an amen on that. But I want to remind you of something even deeper as we come to this table this morning, as we prepare to feed on Christ in our hearts by faith, as the liturgy puts it. I want to remind you that Jesus is at home in your skin too. Our reading from Colossians puts it this way: the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Jesus is at home in your skin because what brings him joy is helping you become more fully human, more of who you long to be, more of who God desires for you to be. As we repent of our sins, as we confess the ways we have run away from Christ’s redeeming love while turning in on ourselves, we must always remember that Christ is right there with us, comfortable in our skin, calling us back to ourselves, our true identity in Christ, the person we long to be. As Saint Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians, “and all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.” When God calls us away from sin he is not only calling us to himself but he calling each of us to our true self in Christ.

Building on these thoughts in the homily I remarked that we need to hear and believe that Jesus’ intimate presence with us at all times is really good news. I simply don’t think many of us think about passages like “Christ in you: the hope of glory” as good news. For many of us the thought of Jesus’ intimate presence with us makes us uncomfortable or ashamed. But we know that Jesus is comfortable in our skin because he is 100% committed to helping us become who we are meant to be by calling us back to ourselves over and over again, tirelessly reminding each of us of his love for us. It is vitally important for us to learn to recognize the truth of Christ’s presence in and among us as good news and cultivating the discipline of speaking and hearing the good news as a spiritual good in and of itself. As Saint Paul says to the Romans, “For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’

1. I gave an illustration from the TV show “What Not To Wear” this Sunday when I was trying to help us understand how Jesus feels about. The way in which people encounter grace helps them undergo a transformation in how they see their selves. I suggested that Jesus wants us to grow in holiness because growth in holiness means that we are growing towards being the best of who we are meant to be as unique human beings. If you had to give an illustration of what God’s love looks like towards you when you are a mess what illustration would you offer?

2. I have suggested that growth in the gospel necessitates that we speak and hear the gospel regularly and that we learn to recognize what counts from scripture as good news. Do you feel that there are some parts of scripture that you might ought to hear as good news but can’t. What keeps you from hearing good news as good news?

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