The Empathy of the Incarnation
We are posting the opening of Jesse's sermon today, "The Empathy of the Incarnation." It drew on recent events to set up the notion that the only way to achieve true peace with friend or foe is through empathy, perfectly modeled for us by He who did not count equality with God something to be grasped, but became our Immanuel, "God with us," our High Priest who sympathizes with us in our weakness. The entire message will be posted later, but for now, here's the introduction.
"On the night of August 9, 2014, we learned that a white LEO in Ferguson, MO, killed an unarmed black man. While the circumstances surrounding this untimely death were unclear at best, we watched a very predictable process unfold. It is a story that is as predictable as it is tragic, in both the incident and the way our country responded. One might have predicted that there would be conflicting eye-witness testimony, as there almost always is, and that lines would be drawn as people picked their favorite witnesses whose testimony supported their pre-conceived ideas of what tends to cause white cops to shoot black men.
One might have predicted the various camps rallied for and against the different players involved as the nation divided itself along our standard racial and ideological lines. One might have predicted that no charges would be brought, since they rarely are in similar cases, and that in lieu of a public trial, the families of both parties would be left little opportunity for closure.
One might have predicted the officer would make an argument of self defense and fear, since that's all the law requires, without assessing the legitimacy or motive for that fear, fear that tends to be strongest towards those different from us.
One might have predicted that while supporters of the officer would wax eloquent about the presumption of innocence in court, our black brothers and sisters testify that they've never experienced the luxury of that same presumption in their own neighborhoods.
One might have predicted that people with political agendas would behave in ways that are insensitive, hurtful, counter-productive and stupid.
One might have predicted a reaction of protest by people who claim to be acting in righteous indignation at injustice and a government that failed the standards of Isaiah 61, while others look at the same events and understandably question the efficacy of burning buildings as a form of protest.
One might have predicted that this week a deranged murderer would try to steal headlines by killing two cops right after killing his girlfriend and just prior to killing himself. One might predict this morning that there are some of you thinking 'this is the worst opening to a Christmas message I've ever heard in my life.'
We live in a world of conflict, centuries old divisions, animosity and hatred everywhere you look, which flies in the face of a longing and yearning which is at the heart of the Christmas season, a desire for peace on earth and good-will towards men. This morning we are going to examine what God did to end conflict and what we as Christians need to be convinced of if we are going to work for peace. We're going to discuss something without which you will never be able to sustain peace with friend or foe -- our topic this morning is the empathy of God, expressed through Incarnation."