Ok, I’ll admit it. I’m a skeptic. I roll my eyes all too often when pro-athletes are interviewed after a game and they thank God for allowing them to win. My sarcastic skeptical side says “yes….because God had time to spare between caring for the hungry and homeless to care about your stupid game.” I don’t think God really cares about what athlete wins and which one loses. It’s not like he’s got some kind of checklist he looks over as the week goes on and says “well, Rogers won last time, so I guess I’ll let Manning win this time.” Or “Since Arrietta threw a no-hitter, I guess I’ll let the Royals win the World Series.”
Then I saw a video this week that kind of changed my mind on the whole thing. Let’s take a watch. (To watch this video, check out http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/david-boudia-steele-johnson-win-10m-synchro-trials) What I like about that video is that both divers pointed to Christ. Not their skills, not the fact that they’ve been chosen for the Olympics, not the fact that they beat other divers, not even the amazing and phenomenal dives they performed, they used the opportunity they had to point to Christ.
“May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” In a day in age where people get ribbons just for showing up, it’s hard to think about boasting only for Christ. But it’s easy to forget that everything we have and everything we are comes from God. And that we are who we are because Christ died for us. But it’s hard to remember when it’s all about me me me. It’s my car, and my house, and my money. I say it almost every Sunday as we prepare to take up our offering. And maybe you know it by heart now. But I say “with all thanks and praise to God, we …” what? “We return to God what God first gave us.”
Boasting about the cross, about Christ, about our faith, about God isn’t always popular. But it is only because of God and God’s action on the cross through Jesus Christ that we are who we are. We cannot possibly be who we are without Christ. I can’t speak for any of you, but my life would be miserable without my faith in Christ. That faith, by the way, that is a gift. That faith which allows me live and breathe day after day after day. The faith which reminds me of my sinful nature but doesn’t let me stay there and set up camp. That cross says to me “the sin of the world hung on a cross and we are eternally forgiven.” There is nothing, absolutely nothing in this world that can even come close to making me feel like I feel when I’ve been forgiven.
There is no amount of money, no job, no clothes, no car, no boat, no diamonds, no whatever that will help me feel like I do when I know I’ve been forgiven. And I’m horrible at remembering to boast of Jesus Christ. You’d think that of all people, I (a pastor) would remember to do this daily. But, I fall into old habits. I forget that everything I am is because of Christ. I forget that without baptismal waters I will just drown in sin. I forget that without the body and blood of Christ, I will starve. I forget that without being in community and gathering around these elements and being with one another, I will start to worship myself which is a dangerous dangerous thing to do.
And so Christ calls me back to the waters, Christ calls me back to the table, and Christ calls me back to this place to be with you to remind me to point to Christ. We gather in this place to boast. We don’t come to church because we’re perfect. I think we all know that. We come to church to boast to the world that we have survived another week of evil trying to get us down. We come to boast to the world that the cross is what defines us, not the world. We come to boast to the world that in a world filled with hate we declare that the love poured out in blood on the cross is for everyone. We come to boast. And we boast. And we boast. And we boast. Because if we couldn’t boast, we’d be begging for mercy.