Pam Kramer: What? That title doesn’t fit the month of December. This is Advent, when we celebrate the birth of an infant to an unwed mother in a stable in Bethlehem. A sweet, innocent baby, meek and mild, whose mother holds him in her arms as her betrothed looks over her shoulder. We sing sweet carols and praise his birth. But there was nothing ordinary about him. Angels sing his praises, shepherds watch in awe and wise men come from afar bringing gifts. For the Christ child was conceived in no ordinary way; he was raised by an ordinary couple, did ordinary things, until adulthood when would begin his radical work. He was the Son of God, a loving God, so how can we describe him as “radical”? It’s a word Pastor has used often recently. That’s a question you can answer best, Pastor.
Pastor Justin: As Lutherans, we have a pretty unique view of Christ’s Radical nature. Since we believe that we are 100% sinner and 100% saint (yeah, the math doesn’t exactly work out, but such is the nature of God) and since there is nothing we can do, on our own, to redeem ourselves (that is God’s job), we then rely on God in Christ to redeem us and re-establish God’s covenant with God’s people.
This goes against every human idea of right and wrong, justice, economy, logic…you name it. I mean, seriously. Think about it for a minute…we each have a narrative about ourselves that is less than positive, let’s call that the sinful nature. IF we listen to this narrative, we may begin to believe it. So we turn to all kinds of remedies to redeem ourselves. The problem is, they don’t work. We may even turn Jesus into a commodity… something we can gain and lose, something that is solely dependent on our ability or inability to believe. In a way, Jesus becomes a stock we invest in and we are constantly watching the ticker to see how we are faring. This is NOT the economy of God and there is nothing radical about this.
Christ’s birth, life, ministry, death, Spirit, Church IS radical, because redemption, grace, Love, relationships rest SOLELY on God’s love for all people through Christ. What God has done and is doing through the birth, life, ministry, and death of Christ is to forever call us redeemed and God’s beloved children (this is the 100% saint part). This doesn’t change or diminish. This doesn’t depend on our ability to believe it, or how loudly we proclaim the creeds. What makes this even more radical is that we absolutely participate in this radical way of being when we serve our neighbor, when we forgive, when we love, when we open our arms to heal.
We reflect this Radical Love of Christ in our daily lives through a beautifully diverse myriad of ways. Because God’s Radical Love is not a commodity, it does not run out. The abundance of God’s Radical Love in Christ is unlimited. The more we lean into it, the more we embrace it, the easier it becomes to trust it, to live it, to come back to it when we have a hard time believing it is true in our lives.
We reflect the Radical Love of Christ first and foremost because God has made it so in claiming us as God’s own beloved children. AMEN AMEN AMEN!
- Pastor Justin and Pam Kramer