Remember poor Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, being driven mad by the shame of being ordinary, not extraordinary? Today, to the shame –
the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonourable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another –
that results from being soiled to our deepest being we must add the shame that results from being told, repeatedly told, that we are extraordinary – that we deserve special treatment; that the rules that rightly apply to other people do not apply to us – while suspecting, increasingly expecting, all along that we are ordinary after all.
We have been sold a dishonourable, improper, even ridiculous lie.
Today, we are all Rodya.
Is there any hope for us?
The Epistle for this coming Sunday opens with this statement:
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David – that is my gospel (2 Timothy 2:8)
keep telling and re-telling, enter-into, allow yourself to be shaped by this Voice, this Character on the human stage…
the name means God saves! We remember Jesus through listening to the Gospels; declaring the Creeds and Affirmations of Faith; entering-into the Calendar; participating in Communion, with him and one another…
the Greek form (common language of the entire Greco-Roman world) of the Hebrew Messiah, one anointed by God to deliver (rescue from oppression) and rule over his people in peace and glory…
God saves…all peoples
raised from the dead
in this Jesus who suffered a shameful death, death itself – the one common experience of all humanity (even birth is something not every life experiences) – has been overthrown; death, in all its forms – including the living death of shame…
God saves all peoples…from death
a descendant of David
God promised David a house – a family; Covenant relationship, an intimate belonging to one another in place of being alone (shame drives us to hide from the very intimacy we long for; we would rather a false us be rejected than our true self) -
and also a kingdom – a realm, of truly extraordinary ordinariness; Kingdom responsibility, to participate in delivering others from imprisonment to shame…
God saves all peoples from death…for a house and a kingdom
that is my gospel
that is the good news we have received, to share in – and with others…
Yes, there is hope for those who live with shame. But it is a long-term process, in which shame itself is charged with meaning, and is the very place of our transformation:
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David – that is my gospel, for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. The saying is sure:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he will also deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself.
2 Timothy 2:8-13 (NRSVA)