Game of Thrones
Yes, Easter is coming. And one week out on Palm Sunday, we compress the story of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem with the passion story of Jesus' betrayal, trial and crucifixion. While I doubt it is as anticipated as the "Game of Thrones" premier tonight, I'm sure I'm not the only preacher proclaiming that on Palm Sunday we have the real deal.
The story of the battle between good and evil is perennial, found in poem, myth and epics through the centuries. I anticipate that GOT will inevitably show a battle scene with dragons, fire and millions of dollars worth of shock and awe in the final showdown. When we write the story of good triumphing, that tends to be how we do it. That is how we imagine, and probably want, good to win.
When the disciples draw a sword to protect Jesus, he shouts, "Enough! No more of this." He knows that violence begets violence and that is not what God wants. It never was. His triumph will come by walking in the way of love. A way that shows us the power of sacrificial love. The way that proclaims - Love wins.
In Paul's letter to the Philippians he describes that as an act of self-emptying, as Christ did. He encourages us to "put on the mind of Christ." The word - mind - doesn't mean thinking. Paul is asking us to "see with the eyes of our heart enlightened" to perceive in the way Jesus did, God does - with our whole hearts. It is mind in the sense of wisdom and deep knowing. It is letting go of our ego to act in support of another, or see another person's perspective, or compromise for the greater good.
The excerpt from Philippians is philosophical in tone, intellectual. Perhaps the people of Corinth were more down to earth because Paul explains this process in his first letter to them in more practical terms. Acting out of love is patient, it is kind. It is not arrogant or envious or boastful or rude. Acting out of love does not insist on your own way - but empties your ego - so you can rejoice in another's truth. This is the love that bears all things, believes all thing and hopes all things. This is the Love that never ends. (1 Cor 13)
Yesterday, the gifted, joyful and amazing leadership of this church spent the day with me on our vestry retreat. A day filled with themes of resurrection - new life, new ideas, new partnerships for our community. We were at Mission Helpers, a worldwide order of sisters in mission around the world. The logo that greets you when you walk in the door has a cross - but the cross isn't the primary symbol. It is off to the side, encompassed by a heart of love. Because the gospel truth we run towards this week is - Love Wins. Amen.