“… he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate” Luke 15: 20-24
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom” Proverbs 11:2
“And he said; “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven”. Matthew 18: 3-4
All week I’ve been following the story of the Canadian fashion mogul, Peter Nygard. Just to bring you quickly up to speed, in 2020, Nygard was accused of sex trafficking, rape and racketeering after the FBI raided his company’s offices in New York City. Right now, Nygard is in the Toronto South Detention Centre, where he will remain until he goes to trial.
At the same time, we have the story of Brian Houston; the lead Pastor of the global mega-church ‘Hillsong’ having been charged with ‘concealing the indictable offense of another person’; that ‘other person’ being his own father, and the crime being child sexual abuse. And Bruxy Cavey, the lead Pastor of the Canadian Mega church ‘The Meeting House’ stepping down because of allegations of sexual harassment of female staff.
And then we have the ongoing sordid tale of Prince Andrew and his sexual assault of minor children apparently trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein.
All stories of powerful men. Of wealthy men. Of men with the responsibility to large groups of people. Heavens, even of men who profess to be Christian, all who have wielded their power and influence to assault and abuse mostly young women.
And here’s the thing. This scenario has been repeated time and time again, with other very powerful people abusing others that they were responsible for. In fact, it happens with even less powerful people; repeatedly. All they need is a victim; a victim with less power – less voice – less opportunity. Not only has the scenario been repeated over and over again; these crimes are covered up for decades by the people around them. Decades.
We cover it up because we really prefer power, don’t we. We certainly prefer power over humility because humility is…
Well – humiliating. Humility means that we might get victimized. Or hurt. We align ourselves with the people in power so that we are protected from being victimized ourselves. Then the alignment becomes collusion. More people are hurt. More power is wielded. More perpetrators are protected. More victims are humiliated.
Lent for all of us in the Christian tradition is a time when we contemplate Jesus’ walk to the Cross. A walk that means that we, instead of protecting the powerful, identify and align ourselves with the victim. Its an incredibly hard, vulnerable place to be; because if we identify and walk with Jesus in humility we risk being victimized; being ostracized; being on the margins. Taking up our own cross with humility, to follow God requires us to change what we value in our society. We sacrifice our power for humility. Our voice for a child’s vulnerability. Our life for that of our friends.
But in the end – well – its exactly the place of celebration. It’s the place of wisdom. Because the perpetrators are brought to justice and the victims are given a voice.
It’s the kingdom of God.
And I have heard that’s a good place to be.
Join me, my Bethel friends, in this walk through Lent. Because Easter is waiting and our God is waiting for us to return home with wide open arms.
Blessing today and remember you are Loved.