Soul Food: New Life on the Other Side of the Wounds
Philippians 2:8a: ‘He humbled himself….’
Philippians 2:9a: ‘Therefore God also highly exalted him.’
None of us wants to be humbled. There is something in us reluctant to experience hurt. We shy away from embarrassment. Most of us avoid looking squarely at our own woundedness. We tell stories to make us seem wiser than we are. Maybe we can acknowledge humanity is frail and broken, but no one wants to be reminded of our own woundedness.
As I traveled the districts on my Days Apart last week, I experienced wonderful hospitality—thank you for your grace toward me. During those days, I mentioned stories I had not told in years. They were stories of difficulty from being under appointment as a clergy person in a community where I was not among the racial majority. Yet, even as humbling as it was, the stories lifted the spirits of those in similar difficulties now. These stories also had people asking deep questions because they had been humbled about their own silence in a world so far from practicing racial justice and equity.
The theologian, Jurgen Moltmann has said that one reason why racial justice has been so slow to achieve is because there is no theology of the oppressor. No one wants to be named by a theology that sees them as the Egyptians or Babylonians or Romans in the stories of oppression in our scripture. Yet, humility is a path to the honest acceptance where grace can bring newness.
Holy Week reminds us that God brings new life to our woundedness. The cycle of our life in Christ is death and resurrection. We can be at peace with our own powerlessness—and accept reality--whatever it is—because God is the bringer of new life. Sometimes the wait between our Good Friday experiences and Easter experiences are excruciating, but we can accept being honest because the one who humbled himself has been exalted.
Follow in the footsteps of Jesus this week. Where are you called to honest appraisal? Where would the Spirit whisper you into transformation? What might your church gain from you if you took the form of a servant? How might God reckon with you more deeply if you were in worship on Thursday and Friday and Sunday? How might we give sacrificially to our mission work in Ukraine and be equally generous with our church?
Life in Christ is not simply skipping from Palm branches to Easter lilies. That would be something short of the truth of our story. Walk with Jesus. Follow. I will prayerfully join you in this journey.
Know that I am praying for you.
Hee-Soo Jung, PhD.
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).