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March 2009 - Pastor Cheryl Pyrch's Letter March 2009 - Pastor Cheryl Pyrch's Letter

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   Discussion: March 2009 - Pastor Cheryl Pyrch's Letter
Chelsea Badeau · 8 years, 9 months ago

A few years ago in New York City, subway riders (or at least this subway rider) were mesmerized by a new ad campaign called "Everybody Loves a Quitter." The NYC Department of Health had plastered subway cars with bright posters of smiling parents and children, couples embracing and jovial friends. Underneath the slogan would be the testimony: someone saying how happy and proud they were that their mother/son/spouse/friend had quit smoking. The power of the campaign came, of course, from the reversal of that old saying, the one your mother or father may have intoned when you threatened to drop off a team or stop playing the piano: "Everybody Hates a Quitter."

In our time and place, even more than a quitter, everybody hates a loser. "Loser" is a epithet: a harsher insult than one with four letters, a worse date than a cad or a rogue. Perhaps that's because loss brings so much pain: loss of a friend or parent or spouse, loss of a home or job, loss of health or strength or sight, loss of status or self-esteem, loss of a way of life. We want to steer clear of losers. We're afraid they'll contaminate us - like the lepers of old - bringing us more loss with its grief, shame and sadness. And don't we have enough?

But over and over in the scriptures for Lent and Holy Week, we are reminded that God loves a loser. God's beloved son was a loser: a convicted criminal, poor, abandoned by his friends, then killed in a shameful, brutal and public way. We are tempted to gloss over this, turning the Ressurection into a kind of last-quarter interception that brings the trailing home team (Christians) to glory. Or, more recently, we've worried that a focus on the cross glorifies - even sanctions - suffering and oppression, and so we turn our eyes. But the scriptures are clear: Jesus was a loser by any human standard. He was intimately acquainted with grief.

I do not believe that God wills or wishes suffering. But unlike us fearful and sinful mortals, God loves a loser; God even became a loser in Christ Jesus to be in solidarity with us. As followers of Christ, we are also called to love losers (including ourselves), and to face with courage the loss such love will bring. Loss that comes when we give our hearts to others, share our treasure, and stand with those in danger or need. Loss and pain is not the end of the story - the Ressurection is a sure sign of that - but they are part of the Christian life, a life of love for all God's children and all God's creatures. "For those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it." (Mark 8:35)

Grace and Peace,

Cheryl

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