Rev. George Miller
August 28, 2016
Today we wrap up our month long sermon series on the book of Hebrews, and it is fitting that as we get to the end, we go back to the beginning.
In Hebrews chapter 2:14 the author states that Jesus shared the same things that we do.
We may not realize it, but this is a profound statement to make- that God, through Jesus, would choose to share the same things we do.
The same cannot be said for Baal. The same cannot be said for Zeus. The same cannot be said for a multitude of gods that people have worshipped over the ions.
But we, as Christians, make the bold claim that God, through Christ, made the choice to dwell on earth in human form and to share the highs and lows of what it is like to be human.
This theological statement is so profound.
That Jesus, Emmanuel, “God With Us” would choose to come to us, vulnerable, as a baby. So vulnerable that his parents had to wrap him in swaddling clothes and flee to Egypt to protect his life.
That Jesus, Emmanuel, experienced as a teenager what it is like to be lost, left behind and separated from his family.
That Jesus, Emmanuel, knew what it was like to go to celebrations, like weddings, feasts, and to participate in political parades.
That Jesus, Emmanuel, shared with us what it is like to have people talk smack and gossip.
Jesus knew what it was like to have people judge what he ate, what he drank, when he worked, and who he socialized with.
So emotionally vulnerable was Jesus that he too experienced the death of someone close to him, and he wept when he heard the news that his dear friend had died.
Who would ever imagine any god wanting to share such a heartbreaking experience?
Jesus shared the busyness of life, to multi-task, to have so much to do, to be stopped by someone who wants something from you.
In the ultimate form of shared experiences, Jesus knew what it was like to age, to suffer in the body, to deal with the sense of shame and forsakenness that death brings about.
Jesus, Emmanuel, knew was it was like to be violated, lied about, mistreated, and wounded by other people’s actions and words.
What kind of God is this?
A God who chose to share in the same things we do.
The reasons are many. One reason is to know, to truly and honestly know, what the human condition is really, really like.
Why would God chose to share in the same things we do?
To be close at hand and to help us when we go through our own joys and sufferings.
To be ever more so merciful, ever more so faithful, ever more so present…
…But what does this mean? What does it mean to say that God, through Jesus, chose to share in our life experiences and to suffer at the hands of others?
What could it possibly mean?
For one thing- it means that we matter.
We matter to God.
We are not insignificant. We are not tiny specks of dust and dirt.
We are not living meaningless lives.
We matter to God, we matter to Jesus, we matter to the Holy Spirit.
We matter to the winds, the rains, the waters, the universe.
We matter to one another.
Second- it means that others matter as well; that others matter just as much as we do.
This means that strangers matter, after all didn’t Jesus come as a stranger to many?
This means any and all people in prison matter, after all wasn’t Jesus imprisoned as well?
This means that those who are afflicted, abused, tortured, and in any kind of pain matter, after all, wasn’t Jesus, Emmanuel, afflicted, abused, tortured, and in pain as well?
Third- it means that relationships matter.
Not just relationships between spouses. But relationships between friends, co-workers, family, and fellow-saints.
It means always finding ways to grow.
It means always learning how to respect, to love, to honor, to empathize, and to strengthen one another.
After all, those were the marks of the earliest Christians that Hebrews was speaking too.
The book of Hebrews has such a strong sense of who Christ is and what it means to be a Christian, and what it means to have faith.
It also gives us a clear sense of who God is.
God is not distant.
God is not far, far above us on some other realm.
But as the book Grounded in God states, God is living horizontally with us.
Yes-God is holy and mysterious. But God is also on the same level as us, with us, next to us, around us, beside us.
Which means that God is near; which means that God is vulnerable.
God shares in our joys; God shares in our suffering.
Because we matter.
We always have.
We always will.
We were always meant to.
We matter just as much today as we mattered yesterday, and just as much as we’ll matter tomorrow.
As do ALL those who were before us, all those who are around us, and all those we have yet to meet.
And all those who will come after us.
In Christ, everyone matters. Every. Single. One.
For that, we can say amen and amen.