You are probably not surprised to hear that I am a disciple of Jesus Christ and have been for some time now, but I am very uncomfortable talking about “the blood of his cross” which is language used in this focus text from Colossians for today. Blood sacrifice of Jesus is a very important part of some Christians’ faith and so be it. Sacrifice as “a thing” has a long history in religion. The focus of faith for me is more on the Resurrection however. I naturally gravitate to the cross with flowers all over it on Easter morning and the pictures of a baby Jesus in the manger surrounded by his parents, the ox, the lamb and the lowly shepherds during Advent to Epiphany. So, I guess you could call me a middle of the road kind of Christian. How about you? It’s clear from the Gospel that the man Jesus was terribly persecuted and crucified for political and religious reasons. We all know how political churches can be and it wasn’t any different in Jesus’ time. Jesus was human and therefore subject to all the creaturely needs we all have, which isn’t to say he wasn’t divine! Divinity is the great mystery of our faith and the only way to find out the truth of it is when we pass through the white light tunnel of heaven. I don’t need to know the truth of everything in order to have an active faith in God, but I choose to have it through my understanding of the Bible and that’s stuck to me all my life. In spite of my natural human tendencies to question authority, I find I need my faith in God and in the miraculous power of Christ’s healing presence more now than ever. Since the election last week and the chaos that has ensued, I am groping in the dark, looking for answers from smart people, from my faith foundations and from God through Jesus the Christ. We are told in the text today “11May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.” That’s so nice. Personally, I might swap in the noun “Creator” rather than “Father” in order to take the gender bias out of it, but in the end it is THE Creator we are thanking, so I’m good with it. Not only are we made but we are made strong by the power of our Creator! Things in this world can really be dreadful but if endured, we are told, we will share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. My theological understanding is that the light is the presence of the Creator whom many have described as a great white beam of shining radiance. There is one problem with this - my enduring suffering is minimal when held up against the suffering of a child orphaned in war-torn Syria or the pain of a parent who has lost family and home in an earthquake and hurricane in Haiti, or the ostracism felt by a person who is transgender raised in a Fundamentalist Christian home. Why those cruel inequities exist I don’t know, but that is where the practice of faith that really means something comes in.
One of the truths in Christianity is there are many different views on the same theme. Having been raised in not one but two Trinitarian traditions, I am perfectly comfortable with the Creator, Son and Holy Spirit concept as being aspects of one God but I know other people of deep faith who do not buy in to that, at all. Some Christians feel we are scripture bound to be pacifists. Others feel we should defend the borders of our country, claiming it to be “under God” even unto to the incarceration of God’s own people. Some Christians believe a pregnancy should never be terminated because all life is sacred, yet feel Capital Punishment is acceptable. Other Christians believe the health and welfare of an adult carrying a pregnancy should take precedence and some question whether that is a governmental issue at all. There are so many examples of how different people, who consider themselves faithful, think and feel about these issues and who come at it