I've never been to Austin, Texas before, but I hear one of their slogans is "Keep Austin Weird." I assume this means, don't let the presence of tourists take away the thing that attracted us in the first place - the cool music, the general acceptance of quirky unusual people, the fear that once something wonderful is discovered it will get all domesticated and made like every other place in the world. Colorful quickly fades to khaki and tie dye individuality becomes a blue oxford shirt. Not that there's anything wrong with a good blue oxford shirt. I have a soft spot in my heart though for the quirky place, the place for the refugee from normal life, the place where 80-year-old retirees and tattooed teens and businessmen and stay at home moms sort of hang out and accept each other - where PhD's and GED's share food and music and life together.
Church can look on the outside like the opposite of "weird." People who are not in the church tend to think that the church is super-civilized and domesticated. A place where we all wear our best clothes and where we're all on our best behavior. A quiet place. A calm place. Not at all a weird place.
However, when you look at the Savior, the one we purport to all be following, the one who brings us all here at such an ungodly hour on a Sunday morning, he looks a little like he might be from Austin, or Key West or some other Certified Weird Location. And I don't just mean the facial hair and the toga and the sandals. I mean the crazy way he tended to proclaim life in the midst of death. The way he ushered in a brand-new weird way of thinking. In a world where the rich seemed to be the ones who owned everything, Jesus came and said, Blessed are...
The poor, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. The whole Kingdom. Weird.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God....
And the part about loving enemies and praying for those who persecute you.
And all the going places and healing people and upsetting religious and secular authorities...all the eating with tax collectors and sinners, all that feeding the hungry, all that hanging out with ne'er do wells. He was so weird and so threatening that they crucified him...and on Easter, proved singularly hard to keep in the grave.
That's not just weird...that's "The World Turned Upside Down" (cue fife and drum, if you were in worship a couple weeks ago) ....
I'm so glad to be the pastor of a church that embraces the "weird" and life-transforming truth of the Gospel.
See you in Church,