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Christ Died for the Ungodly

By Rev. Dr. Warner Bailey

This election has been about choices. About the most extreme way I have heard the options stated claims that the choice is between a gradual drift toward a dictatorship or a plunge into socialism. While that might be an effective ploy to achieve a polarized response, the claim shows no awareness of how often socialism produces dictatorship or that a dictator can keep power only by playing to the population’s deep fears. As with most cases, the two extremes meet in a death-like grip. It is a false choice created with the purpose of maintaining a high degree of polarization and dysfunction within our democracy.

We have been suffering for a long time from demonizing from all sides. Another way of saying it is that lots of folks have reveled in self-righteousness with the damning of all other viewpoints than theirs. The images of living in a silo or echo chamber or bubble come to mind.

How bracing, then, is it to read from Romans 5 these words: “Christ died for the ungodly.” The very ones we demonize Christ died for. The One we claim to love and follow gave his life for the ones we hate. What does that sacrifice say to our self-righteousness and demonizing? What does that gift of a life freely laid down say to how we tie ourselves up in knots over one convoluted conspiracy theory after another?

“Christ died for the ungodly” is a shock to our sense of self-righteousness. It lays our pomposity low. It reveals how it is not just our opponent who is “ungodly” but it is also us. “Christ died for the ungodly”—his death exhibits to us, the ungodly, our ungodliness before God.

God makes us see our ungodliness maybe for the first time. God makes us see the price, the results, of our ungodliness. He makes us see that our ungodliness makes us weak, even sub-human. He makes us see that ungodliness leads to death.

But in that gift of a life freely laid down, God opens the way for God to call the ungodly back home. “For while we were still weak, at the right time…God proves his love for us in that…Christ died for us, [the ungodly].” Jesus stretches out his nail-scarred hands across this nation made perilously weak by blind polar- ization, and calls us out for the ungodly way we are treating each other. Look what you are doing to your- selves! Step back from what is sure to happen. God loves you too much to let you do this to yourselves. Jesus plants his nail-scarred feet in every cell, every cabal, every chat room. Is this how you want to end up? People who plot wrath end up being consumed by that wrath. God has provided a better way that leads to endurance, character, hope, and a heart flooded with God’s love.

That way leads through giving up things that you may hold dear, that are precious, that you don’t think you can live without, and accepting things that you have difficulty taking on and adjusting to. In a word, the way leads through suffering, joint suffering by you and your demonized opponent, a community of suffering with the Christ who died for the ungodly. But that community of suffering is where the springs of new life are to be found.

And of course, an important event every October is The Blessing of the Tartans service. This year, the service will be videotaped fully in the sanctuary; but in addition to that, we will have a late-afternoon outdoor event on October 18th on the front lawn. We’re still working out details, including the time, but the event will have elements of the Kirkin’ worship service but also include fellowship. You are invited bring a picnic dinner.

Normally we advertise these events to the larger community, but will not be doing so this year for the purpose of social distancing concerns. Seating will be limited, and we’re still not sure how many we can accommodate. We’ll inform you as we know more.

The main reason we are doing this is that the survey you participated in last month made it quite clear that we miss one another! Until we can return to in-sanctuary, in-person worship, we thought that these kinds of events, as the weather allows, could be a good way to reconnect.

As you can understand, all our COVID-19 policies will be fully in place for these events. We ask that you bring and wear masks except when eating and that you maintain social distance. Seating will be picnic- style at all events, though individual chairs will be available. There will be disinfectant stations.

As always, we ask that if you are in an “at-risk” category and are thinking you’d like to come, please discuss it with your physician and family before you decide to do so.

The Worship Committee and staff are in discussions about other ways to provide live worship while we’re all still dealing with the pandemic. We will continue to keep you informed of our plans. Many blessings to you all!



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