In today’s sermon, I said that I didn’t really keep up with the news on Ukraine. That was true when I wrote the sermon, which was a few days ago, but now it’s like that is all I have been reading about. I just find it really sad and infuriating at the same time. Then again, I find that to be true about a lot of things happening in the news lately. It’s just so hard to see all the divisiveness in the world when clearly there are easier ways for us to get along. Clear to me, at least.
But then I started to think about why people act the way they do. Why do we need so much power? Why do we need things to go in such specific ways that benefit just us? Why must we hold onto our narrow rhetoric of what is what that we can so quickly dismiss the opposing side?
I always come back to the same conclusion: identity. And for many, this identity is found in numbers. Birds of a feather, they say. This identity dictates how we act, how we think, and how we resolve things. It tells us not just who we are, but also who we can only be. Because once we falter from that image, we can no longer claim that identity.
The thing is, there will never be a shortage of labels we can put on ourselves and each other. But the fact of the matter is all those labels really should be summed up by one big one: Child of God.
Here we are, already at the 1st Sunday in Lent. And these texts to me talk about identity. We have the people of Israel claiming their identity through their land, the church of Rome reminded that their identity is in their faith, and of course Jesus’ identity questioned by the adversary. This to me shows us how important identity is for us and how we perceive it in the world. And how sometimes, we might be put to the test to prove that identity.
And I get it, when something as important as our identity is challenged, we want to fight back and show the world how strong we are. We want to show everyone just how much we belong. We want all to know that we are, in fact, powerful in who we are.
But that’s just the thing, Jesus was faced with those same temptations, but instead of giving in and trying to muscle his way into respect and honour, he submitted to his true God-given identity as God’s own son. And as God’s son, he acts in a way that is humble, compassionate, and gracious. He found true power in being generous. He found true might in acting out of charity and service. He found complete identity in God’s love.
And again, this isn’t going to change anyone’s mind about what is happening around the world, nor is it going to stop any wars. But maybe, just maybe, if someone can allow their perceived identity fall a little bit and allow the identity of God’s child grow in those cracks, then perhaps the world could be taking a small step toward peace.
Kyrie eleison. Lord, have mercy.
May this coming week bring introspective reflection and God’s life giving identity, filling you with hope and faith and above all, love.
Peace be with all.