Day 40 - March 28
William H. Lamar IV
WTS PM&M Program Partner; Pastor of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church
|Morning Theme Song:||
Religion? ~ Philippians 2:5-11
I am not surprised that I am the only person to choose the word religion to frame my devotional. Religion is a word that we want to bury – ashes to ashes and dust to dust. We prefer a sexier ecclesial vocabulary, one more suited to the therapeutic lens through which we view discipleship. We want relationship and connection, not religion. I, too, am a cultured despiser of the word religion and all that it connotes.
Religion communicates stiltedness and rigidity. We see religion as the opposite of life-giving. But what if there is yet life in this despised term? The word religion is said to be derived from a Latin word that means to bind or to join. During our Lenten journey we are called to be bound together with the mystery of the divine life and we are called to be bound to one another. Repentance, reflection, and other disciplines make holy binding possible.
The Christ hymn in Philippians 2 is about religion. It is a kenotic melody that calls us to sing and to dance in self-giving, other-affirming movements choreographed by the One and the Redeemer. Jesus did not grasp at the power of divinity, but Jesus bound himself to us. Jesus emptied himself in us.
We like to talk about this kind of emptying in song, sermon, and liturgy. But we are loath to truly bind ourselves to Jesus. We are humble and obedient until we feel pain or pressure. True religion binds us completely to God and one another. True religion binds us so completely that it becomes difficult to know where the divine mystery ceases and we begin.
This difficult, terrible religion attracts and repels me. During these 40 days, may the Holy Spirit open us all to the religion of Jesus.
Reflection: Why are we reluctant to be bound to God and one another? What are we afraid to lose?