This is a copy of the sermon from this past sunday preached by the fabulous Kevin Maly pastor of St. Paul's in downtown Denver. Kevin is to be my supervisor for internship...how lucky am I?
It’s certainly been an interesting week in the world of religion. The Discovery Channel, along with Harper San Francisco, announced the release of their television documentary and book, “The Jesus Family Tomb.” If you watched any of the morning TV shows you heard and saw tabloid TV director Simcha Jacobovici and “Titanic” director James Cameron holding slickly forth about their work detailing the finding of the bones of Jesus, his mother Mary, supposed wife Mary Magdalen, a son and assorted other relatives. When first I heard the story on the Today Show, I groaned right out loud. I just knew that the week would bring all sorts of questions as to what I thought about this so-called discovery. Before even hearing the show-biz types “pimping off the Bible,” as Joe Zias, retired curator at the Rockefeller Musueum in Jerusalem, characterized the work of Jacobovici and Cameron, I had already come up with my reply. I decided I would simply borrow Rhett Butler’s remark to Scarlet O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
But what if they really have found the bones of Jesus? Long ago in seminary we were already hearing the question about what if the bones of Jesus were ever found. There wasn’t a single professor who didn’t remark along the lines of “Who cares?” Well, apparently lots of people. Quoting Joe Zias again, “People want signs and wonders.” People want signs and wonders. Seems we’ve heard that one somewhere before too.
In this morning’s Gospel story we hear some Pharisees – of all people – urging Jesus to run away. “Herod,” they tell Jesus, “wants to kill you.” More likely, given who they are, the Pharisees are afraid they and a whole lot of others might just see signs and wonders from Jesus. Have no fear says Jesus, all you will see me do is what I have always done: I will be found with the outcasts and the unclean. I AM the one who is like a mother hen, gathering her weak chicks under her wings.
God, a mother hen tucking her little ones under her wings. How . . . . . . . . pathetic, really. What is a mother hen in the face of a jackal like Herod? What is a mother hen in the face of the insanities being perpetrated by the powers and principalities of this shadowed planet? A mother hen, what a hoot! The chicks might get away – for a few moments, but mama’s going to be Sunday dinner for the fox, the jackal, and every other assorted predator. We don’t want some feathered chicken, we want signs and wonders. You know, the glorified body of Christ did pass through walls! You know what that means! Perhaps he did leave his bones behind. Then what a find! Wow, we could reach out and touch the real bones of the real body. Perhaps if we were to wave a thigh bone in the air like some truly cosmic magic wand, we could cure AIDS, end poverty, house the homeless, and have real regime change for a change. That would be a real triumph. Get that body off the cross, shoo away that silly hen, who needs Lent and all that dreary Golgotha stuff, let’s get on with the victory party!!
So, what if they are the bones of Jesus, the relic of relics? Frankly, I doubt they are and I hope they are not – the world doesn’t need any more crap and stupidity in the name of Christianity. Besides, bones don’t matter to me, for I have already seen Christ, and I come to bear witness and to testify: you along with me this very day will see the true body of Christ. In this morning’s Gospel we hear Jesus promise: “You will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’” And today that prophecy will be fulfilled as you join millions on earth and untold multitudes in heaven in singing that unending hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of power and might! Hosanna in the highest, hosanna in the highest.” And then, as Martin Luther writes in his instruction on the Mass, the Priest raises the bread and wine as the people sing – here it is – “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” It has come to pass: We see Christ!
Hmm. Not very . . . . . . . . impressive. Looks like simple bread and wine. About as powerful as some dumb hen. But . . . God, nonetheless. Our God – the one who whose power and might are made perfect in weakness. Our God, whose throne is upon the dung heap surrounded by the thieves, the whores, the murderers, the defectives, and the diseased. Our God – the one who dies daily of AIDS in Africa, the one who is maimed and murdered with the service men and women in Iraq, the one who is continually being slaughtered with the hundred thousand and more Iraqi citizens in that hideous war. Our God – the one who says for those who mock and murder God, who says for you and for me, for those in Washington D.C., and even for the suicide bombers – forgive them.
You with me this day will see Jesus, hidden in, with, and under simple bread and wine. And you and I will take the true body and blood of Jesus into our bodies, and we will all go out from this place, forgiven to be sure, but even more – with Christ in our bodies – all of us – made one with Christ, to BE Christ in and for the world. No, not the cosmically powerful Christ, but the Christ who is mother, caring for the children in our midst and for all the vulnerable ones who cross our paths. Christ – the one who touches and loves the last, the least, and the most unlovely. You and I – Christ hidden within us – going out into the world to cast out the demons of racism in our words, in our deeds, in our advocacy, and in our voting. You and I – Christ hidden within us – working to bring an end to the insanities of this and every war. You and I – Christ hidden within us – living simply and simply refusing to cooperate with a culture of materialism and gross over-consumption. You and I, Christ hidden within this faith community in this city for good – this faith community which is an announcement of grace for all people – for all people . . . without exception.
Frankly my dears, you and I don’t give a damn about the bones. The real thing, it’s right and simply here. So prepare yourselves: you’re about to saved and the whole world with you. Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
Copyright, 2007, Kevin R. Maly