Senior Minister’s Message
Rev. Dr. Mark Boyea
‘Tis the season.
No, not that season. You’re not imagining things. The Christmas season is definitely over.
‘Tis the season of champions.
College football crowned its national champion a couple of weeks ago. Before long, men’s and women’s college basketball will begin the cultural phenomenon known as “March Madness” that leads to determining those champions. The Super Bowl will soon produce a champion in professional football. And, of course, we are on the threshold of finally leaving the two-plus years of “warm-up” and beginning the political primary season where Republican and Democrats will determine their champions prior to November’s presidential election.
Because of that, we are almost guaranteed to hear in - connection to at least one of those events - the chorus to the classic rock song by the band Queen:
“We are the champions, my friends
And we'll keep on fighting to the end
We are the champions, we are the champions
No time for losers, ‘cause we are the champions of the world”
“No time for losers.”
It’s what the song, and a certain presidential candidate, likes to remind us over and over again. And it is a predominant attitude in our culture. If you’re not a champion, you’re a loser.
So what do we do with Lent?
At the same time that we are entering this season of champions, we Christians are also entering the season of Lent. And as Christians, as followers of Jesus, that leaves us a bit of a dilemma. For while we live in a society that prizes nothing more than being a champion, and disdains nothing more than a loser, we are members of a faith that at its core does just the opposite.
As Giles Fraser, a priest in the Church of England put it a few months ago, “Christianity, properly understood, is a religion of losers.” From its inception, our faith was intended for and consisted of those who the world saw, and still largely sees, as losers. Early in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus establishes the “vision statement” for his ministry, and subsequently, for our faith:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free and proclaim the year of the Lord.”
The poor. Prisoners. The disabled. The powerless. All losers by the standards of the day, and still, for the most part, our day.
Jesus would then go about that mission by selecting a team of losers. Common fishermen. A despised tax collector. A team that would betray and desert him when things got tough. And then there was Jesus himself. Before long, executed as a common criminal. Seen as just another loser by the Roman Empire that ruled the world, by the religious leaders of the day, and by many of his own people.
But...They would all turn out to be wrong. In the long view of God’s time, the Roman Empire would be a short-lived champion. And so would the religious leadership of Jesus’ time. But Jesus? Jesus’ life and example? Jesus’ mission? Our mission? That remains. That still lives. That still has the last word, as often and as much as the world and our culture continue to tell us it is a losing proposition.
It is not. It is God’s call to being true champions. ‘Tis the season.