March 30

Good morning everyone! Happy Friday!

Today’s scripture: Philippians 2:1-11
 If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

 Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father. 

Yesterday I was in Powell’s books in Portland.  I spent the night in Portland and came up a bit early to hang out at Powell’s and with a friend.  As we were walking around we heard this over the intercom, “Mark your family is concerned because you said you were going to the yellow room.  There is no yellow room, but there is a gold room.  There is a difference between gold and yellow.”  This made me stop and giggle in the aisle ways.  My friend didn’t overhear it, she was on a mission but it really caught my attention.
First of all, wow, this family is really concerned enough to put this over the intercom? Secondly, is there enough of a difference between yellow and gold that it becomes a cause for concern when someone is going to the room that is within that color scheme?  Third, will this dude hear this and say, “oh wait, what room am I in after all? yellow? gold?”  Or perhaps language actually does matter and we need to pay attention to where we are…..
Now, I am probably investing way too much think time into this and it was probably a joke over the intercom…sounds like something my parents would do….but it got me to thinking about how we interpret the story and live that out.  This is what writing a daily devotional does to one’s brain.  I stood there in this huge bookstore that I love and started thinking about language and our relationship to God.  For starters, what do we call God and how does that change our relationship with God?  I know some people that really cannot use a male pronoun for God because it feels pretty damaging…others like the male pronoun for God to represent the male that never existed for them or reminds them of their loving Father.  I generally just say God to represent something larger than gender but if I do pick a pronoun I love that God could be she…God is big enough for all pronouns but it does sometimes change how I interact with God.  All of a sudden God is gold or yellow depending on where we are.
Or today if we read Philippians through the lens of the message, I connect to the writer speaking of Jesus becoming human.  This writer is putting the image of Christ in a different perspective.  Other translations talk about Jesus “emptying himself” in this passage which I think is harder to connect to than “becoming human.”  With that I can connect with Jesus in a totally different way if I know that Jesus became just like me.  And in this way the word “obedience” isn’t so scary either…what do you think?
How will language change things for you today? What will you see? What will you hear?
O God, our creator, mother father, being…we thank you for the many words you have given us to describe your world in all sorts of varied languages and variances.  Allow us to see you differently today. Amen.
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