[Jesus] also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Lk. 18.9-14)
You know the how the old movie begins, right? “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” Well, it’s a great fantasy, oodles of fun, but that’s all it is. I want to tell you another story, the truest story ever, the story about a God, the God, the loving Creator of all that is, a God present right here, right now, in this moment, and not far away at all, but as close to us as our own beating hearts. This God, the God revealed in many ways but most clearly in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, loves us so much, you, me, all of us together, our friends and our enemies, good people and bad, moral and immoral, that God refuses, absolutely refuses, to keep score. No scorekeeping!
If that’s true, and I believe it is, why do we work so hard at it? God isn’t interested!
Christ crucified bears all our humiliation; in him God swallows whole the power of death. Christ risen raises us all, exalts us, gifts us with new life, with hope to endure anything, peace beyond the world’s understanding, and a call to service, to discipleship, to join with God and with one another in bringing in the new creation. There all humiliation is finished, and all are exalted, the whole creation, God’s dream become reality, God’s passion for all of us and for everything that exists: Healing, wholeness, reconciliation, true community, perfect shalom forever.
Thanks be to God!