Traditional Service Good Friday
I used to think that I was something worth dying for, but recently I’ve been a little less certain.
During the last few years I’ve taken on new adjectives–wife, pastor, mom. And whenever we take on a new label or identifier it makes us evaluate our lives. It causes us to climb out of our little burrows and take a look at the landscape. When I became a mom, I became extremely aware of the person I have been tasked to raise, defend for, care for, and if needed–give my life for.
As parents it’s in our DNA.
The Mom or Dad reflex goes on hyper sense. When driving and stepping on the break, our arms reflexively go out to protect the passengers. When out and about and there’s a loud noise our hands reach out to grab our child. When needed we will place ourselves in front of the ones we love–willing to give our life so they may know theirs–and know it abundantly.
And there was a time…a time long ago… where I felt worth dying for.
As a child I knew that my parents would do anything for me.
Not only did I feel protected, but I felt loved and valued and covered…always.
In my undergraduate studies I took a course in sociology and human behavior. I recall reading about sociologists and anthropologists studying ‘who was worth dying for.’ And always, always it was the kids. In a group situation–it was of the group mind to protect the kids. Next it would be young women, followed by young men. Anthropologists and biologists would argue that the young adults were before childbearing age–they could carry on the line. But as you age it seems like your stock in the ‘worth dying for’ portfolio diminishes.
Great news for most of us gathered here, right?!
And that’s just from the biological point of view. Our stock and biological clocks ticking and diminishing. But we don’t have to talk to a sociologist, all we have to do is revisit our life truthfully. To walk down the path of regret and the briars of shame. I know I left the meadow of infancy and innocence a long time ago, and have been visited by the ghosts of my past.
And then there’s culture. In every way culture is telling me (sometimes loudly) that I am not worth dying for because I have a shelf life. Sometimes I’m sent messages that I can fool others and maybe myself about this expiration date with hair dyes, anti-wrinkle cream… or when it’s a really bad day…perhaps the use of a bag to put over my head.
And of course, there’s the marks of life lived. I used to think I was easily worth dying for, but those were in the days before mistakes were made or paths ventured had consequences. Those were the days of the fresh spring of youth before time and choice soiled or spoiled.
We may ask ourselves, aside from the really young and really innocent, who is worth dying for?
God’s answer rises out of the dark places of our doubt with the response, “You, my child, are worth dying for.”
God’s answer rises in the ashes of burned out husks of cathedrals and bullet marked synagogues, “You, my child, are worth dying for.”
God’s answer rises on the dawn after our many years of aging and whispers, “You, my child, are worth dying for.”
God’s answer rises in the wake of attacks on the body, the mind, and the safe places we know, and with a weeping cry of love responds,
“You, my child, are worth dying for.”
How is this possible that you and I are worth dying for?
How is this true knowing our past sins, our broken ways, our mistakes that hurt others, our choices that damaged our dreams?
How is it possible that we are worth dying for when so many days we may engage in acts of death–whether that death comes from violence or we engage in death of character through gossip and slander and lies?
How is it possible that in the plain truth that you and I could have easily been in that mob who crucified Jesus or stayed silent or denied or ran away? How is it possible in this truth that we are worth dying for?
How are any of us worth dying for?
The words of Saint Paul from his letter to the Romans reminds us of God’s truth.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”Romans 5:6-8
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
That’s why you are worth dying for, because God loves you enough to give a life for a life.
God loves you enough to reorient the cosmos for you.
God loves you enough to take all the junk, take away all the regret, take away all the shame, and offer you the goodness of Christ. A gift of love that will never grow old.
God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us… More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.Romans 5:5, 11
You are worth dying for because you are God’s own.
And as we know from our own experience, it is in a parent’s DNA to give their lives for their kids.
No matter how old, how broken, how lost their child may be.
You are God’s own. You are God’s beloved. Always. Forever.