Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Fleshing Out the Role God Plays--Wesley Foundation E-Letter (Methodist Campus Ministry)

Dear Friends,


Hope everyone came through the storms from last night okay.  There was a slumber party at the Wesley Foundation for those who had no basement to run to.  I love how a time of good, clean fun can happen anytime for any reason. 


Tomorrow night we meet for dinner at 6:30pm and program afterwards.  If you want to see us do something in particular this semester, this is a great time to come.  We will be planning some of our events for the Spring.


Now For Sami’s Ramblings About Jesus:


When I was in seminary I got a role in the musical “Godspell.”  Originally produced in the 70’s, each character was portrayed as a clown.  In updating the production for our community though, the director asked each of us to come up with a stereotype of different kinds of personalities that young people have.  Everyone decided I should represent the “alternative” crowd.  And so for the first time in my life I donned all black clothing, black lipstick, black fingernail polish, and a “who gives a ___________” attitude.  I stepped out of myself in some amazing ways that semester and discovered God’s grace deep in the places of me that were longing to rebel against my own and everyone else’s expectations.


I love that in the incarnation, God steps out of Himself in some amazing ways that blow our expectations of Him out of the water.  During Advent and Christmas we discovered that the God who becomes flesh dwells among us, not as a king surrounded by luxury, but as a baby swaddled in a feeding trough.  How humbly and gently He comes.  This is what we learn from Advent and Christmas.  And during Lent and Easter, we learn something else. 


I am astounded that in the incarnation, God chooses to become flesh by being a simple carpenter, who becomes a traveling teacher, who continuously shakes up the status quo, who embraces the outcasts, who calls to repentance the righteous, and who follows a path that leads to the shame and destruction of a cross.  It is as if the roles that God rejected in becoming incarnate reveal as much about the Divine character as who Jesus revealed Him to be through His life and death on earth.  How easily we cast God in the role of judge.  And yet God incarnate chose not to be Pilot.  How easily we cast God in the role of accuser.  And yet God incarnate chose not to be the Sanhedrin.  How easily we cast God in the role of punisher.  And yet God incarnate chose not to be the Roman soldier.


In revealing the Divine nature to humanity through His Son Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, God chooses to be the lamb who was slain.  God chooses to make flesh the words of Isaiah’s description of the Suffering Servant:


For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account. . . .  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.  By a perversion of justice he was taken away.  Who could have imagined his future?  For he was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people.  They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.  Isaiah 53:2-9


It staggers me to consider what exactly it is that God chooses to identify with in the human experience.  He chooses those raw places in the human experience that we’d rather not remember.  He chooses to identify with us when we are despised, rejected, suffering, infirm, treated as if we were of no account, oppressed and afflicted.  The human response to such feelings is to deny them, forget them, discount them, and destroy them.  We render them meaningless in a world that exalts and glorifies prestige, power, and position.  How unbelievable it is then when God incarnate not only honors such experiences by having them, but then transforms them through the power of the cross.  How powerfully God validates the worst kind of suffering any human being could ever go through.  And in our heart of hearts, isn’t that what we are crying out for?  Someone to notice?  Someone to care?  Someone to really see how badly we hurt and how terribly that hurt makes us fear?  What an intimate place of love that God chooses to become real to us, joining us in our very deepest suffering when He as God never had to suffer at all.  And that is the true gift of Lent and Easter.  We serve a God loves so much that He suffers because of it, and the only thing that relieves His own suffering is joining us in ours and lifting us out of it.  Oh my Gosh.  This is so powerful.


So today on Ash Wednesday let us wear the ashes that remind us of our own vulnerability, ashes that tell us we are dust and to dust we will return.  And let us celebrate as well the God whose love called Him to become dust with us, and to share also the dust of our own vulnerability.  Thanks be to God.







Sami Wilson

Campus Minister/Director

WKU Wesley Foundation

United Methodist Campus Ministry



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