How are you an Echo?
As our emcees and trusted voice pointed out at the Monday night Mass Event, humility is hard to teach, and hard to describe, so we point to the only picture of true humility we can find: Jesus. He could have demanded that people treat Him like a king, but He didn’t. Instead, we see Him feeding the hungry, washing feet, chasing after the unwanted people, and allowing Himself to be killed like a criminal to save us. Jesus had zero regard for how loving people would ruin His divine reputation.
Pastor Matt Popovits said, “Our humility is an echo of Jesus’ humility.” An echo happens when something somewhere makes a sound and that sound travels through the air until it finds something to reflect off of. That’s how Paul describes our acts of humble love and service. We receive Jesus’ humble love and we give it to someone else. When you were baptized, the humble love of Jesus found you and marked you. Over and over again the love of Jesus finds us. But it doesn’t end there. It reflects in us and through us to someone else. We are the echo.
We were directed to Philippians 2: 3-5: “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.”
Director of Christian Education (DCE) Shelli Haynes too the stage to share her story of growing up in a dark, sad house with an alcoholic dad and a mom who was scared and alone most of the time. She felt alone and defeated most of the time, until April sat down next to her on the bus and invited her to church. And it was the pastor and people of Holy Cross Lutheran Church who introduced her to Jesus. “Pastor was the first echo of Jesus I’d ever experienced,” Shelli said. The people of Holy Cross “walked into my dark sad life and he offered me hope.” Shelli saw the humility of Christ echoed in the lives of students and adults of her church. It was a safe and loving place where she got to know a God who loved her and wanted a relationship.
After high school, Shelli went to Concordia University in Irvine, California, where she studied to be a DCE. It was early in her internship that she discovered her mom had lung cancer. There were eight weeks between diagnosis and death. “Knowing Christ as I did, I was so sad to think maybe my mom didn’t,” Shelli said. “How scary it must be to die and not know God.” But later, Shelli found her mom’s Bible and notes from her pastor, who visited often in those last eight weeks, and Shelli was comforted in knowing that her mom reconnected with her faith.
— LCMS Youth Gathering (@LCMSNYG) July 19, 2016
“God is not dependent on our circumstances in order to be God,” Shelli said in conclusion. “He is continually writing our story. He pulls out all the stops for us and our good. He wasn’t content to leave me in the sadness. He showed His great love for me in the death and resurrection of Jesus. God didn’t just love me, but my whole family. The same God who never gave up on me, continually seeks you out, too. He is loving you and wanting to walk with you in obedience and faith. I’m so thankful for all the people God has used to echo into my life. How is God using you to echo into the lives of others?”
Jesus has gone to immeasurable lengths to love us. He’s given us everything. He asks for nothing. And now there is nothing we can do to make Him love us less.
At Tuesday mornings Bible study, we revisited the topic of humility by recognizing ourselves as “Me Monsters.” And Scripture says this to Me Monsters: “In humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3b). It is pivotal to remember your Baptism each day. The lifelong struggle of the Me Monster means that you need to drown him daily as you remember your Baptism. Confession and absolution is pivotal. Confess your struggle to put yourself first, and hear the good news that your Me Monster was crucified at the cross and you are forgiven.
Bible study then led to a conversation on community that will be continued at Tuesday night’s Mass Event. It is the words of confession and absolution that make the Church a community like none other. It’s the community that all of us long for but that only comes through humility which is in Christ alone.
We remember that in Christ alone, we are refreshed. Rather than feed the Me Monster, be fed by Christ in Word and Sacrament. Partake in the joy of community, founded in humility, which is your identity IN CHRIST ALONE.
Photo credit: Nathan Harmann, 2016 LCMS Youth Gathering Media Team