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Saturday, 12 May 2018

May 13, 2018

The Christ Hymn - Easter 7

The Christ Hymn – Easter 7

May 13, 2018

Philippians 2:1-13


Once upon a time I read or heard a story.  I think it was written or told by Walter Wangerin, Jr. Despite an intense search, I have not been able to locate the original story.  This is what my mind remembers:


An African-American woman had two sons.  One son’s skin was light and the other’s dark.  The mother called them “My Brown” and “My Black” and she loved them very much.  But from the very beginning the two sons did not get along.  There would be pushing and shoving.  There would be name calling.  The mother tried her best to show them how much she loved them and to help them love each other, but it seemed to have little effect.


As they grew older, the fighting only became more intense.  They were evenly matched so both were capable of inflecting pain on the other.  Despite their mother’s pleas, they would not stop fighting.


One day, when the sons had grown to be young adults, there was a heated argument and one son pulled a gun.  He aimed and fired at his brother. The mother stepped in the way.  She took the bullet to spare her son from being killed by his brother.  She took the bullet to spare her son from killing his brother.  She loved them enough to be willing to die for them.


It’s Mother’s Day.  What do mothers want?  Advertisers will give you a long list of things mothers are supposed to want.  But what do they really want?  I believe mothers want to be loved by their children.  I think there is something even stronger than that.  I think mothers really want their children to love each other.


Paul loved the people of the church in Philippi.  They had shown that they loved the Gospel.  They had shown that they wanted others to know about Jesus and they even sent support to Paul when he was imprisoned for sharing the Gospel.


But Paul knew how things could go wrong in churches.  There could be battles for control.  There could be contests for power.  Paul was afraid that, like had happened in other churches, the Philippians could destroy their church by seeking power and control more than sharing love.


So Paul reminded them of the mind of Christ.  Paul reminded them of the love of Christ.  He shared what were probably the words of a hymn Christians used for worship from the very beginning of the Christian Church:


Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,

did not regard equality with God

as something to be exploited,

but emptied himself,

taking the form of a slave,

being born in human likeness.

And being found in human form,

he humbled himself

and became obedient to the point of death—

even death on a cross.


Jesus was equal to God.   Jesus was God come among us.  But he emptied himself.  He became a slave.  In human form he humbled himself and became obedient, even being willing to take on the pain and agony of death on a cross. 


He did is for us. Jesus lived, died and was raised again so that we can be freed from our mistakes and our failures and know God’s forgiveness.  We can be freed from death and know the promise of life beyond this life.  Jesus was willing to die so that we might live.


And Jesus died so that we might love.  Knowing that God loves us so much that he gave his Son for us, we can empty ourselves, we can give up the desire for power and control, and we can forgive and serve others sharing the love of God we know if Christ Jesus.


I once did a wedding for a couple who were older than most couples I usually have worked with.  Dave was a bit of a character and, during one of our counseling sessions, he told me that there was just one thing he wanted his bride to do every day.  He said every day he wanted Colleen to ask, “What can I do for Dave?”


It was years later when I thought of a second question Colleen could have been asked, too, before the “What can I do for Dave?” question.  I could have told Dave to make sure Colleen asked every day, “What has Dave done for me?”


The two sons in the story may have seen each other differently if they would have considered what their mother had done for them, how much she had loved them both.  Perhaps then they would have seen each other with their mother’s eyes and heart . . . and mind.


We know what God has done for us.  Paul’s reminder to the people of Philippi is also a reminder to us.  God loves us so much he sent his Son to so that we can know without any doubt that we are loved.  WE are loved so that WE can love each other. 


We can have that same mind, the mind of Jesus. AMEN