Wednesday, October 08, 2008

giving up

Lately, I've been occupied with the sense that we ought to spend more time talking about what the church is not. Or, better, what being a Christian means you ought to give up.

In this week's scripture passages, folks have a hard time giving up old ways of being. While Moses is up on Mount Sinai hanging out with God, Aaron and the rest of the folks get restless and anxious and decide to make a god on their own--not God's preferred activity, to say the least. Then, in the New Testament, Jesus tells a story about some folks who go to a wedding party the King is throwing, but don't bother to put on their party clothes; it's clear that they should have.

Maybe it's a bit of a stretch, but it seems to me both are stories of people unwilling to give up their old ways of being. In the first, their anxiety prompts them to try to find their own gods. In the second, not even a wedding invitation from the King is enough to make people change their clothes.

In baptism, since the early church, we are asked to take on vows that speak both of what we take on (belonging in the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ) and what we give up (our ties to sin, evil, injustice, the powers of this world, and more). Becoming a part of God's people requires both: we let go of who we were to become someone new.

Some things are hard to let go of. Mostly, though, it feels really good.

The fact that the seemingly all-powerful economic systems of our time are collapsing around me certainly makes it a relief to lay down my own false belief that I could secure my future with good financial investments, anyhow.

How good it is to know that our salvation is to be found in something altogether different, better, and more life-giving.

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