Coram Deo -- Atlanta
22 July 2011
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
So how do you feel this morning, as you stand before God? Feeling pretty good about yourself? Or not so much? Are you down on yourself and say that even as His baptized child, you are alone, afraid, and a failure? Or are you feeling overly confident?
All of these sorts of feelings went through Hal Jordan's mind. Deep down he was scared and didn't have great trust in himself. Yet he covered it with a bold, in-your-face confidence and wild playfulness that tried to charm everyone.
So when the ring chose who would be the next Green Lantern, whom should it pick? It chose Hal. A very unlikely choice -- a loser! Nothing in him that seemed worthy of being chosen.
Israel wasn't worthy, either. God's chosen people were small in numbers, not a major military power, not wealthy among the nations -- nothing to make them an obvious selection as a "chosen nation."
The same goes for you. Nothing in your natural self makes you chosen, royal, or holy. "Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."
In a sense, Hal Jordan was chosen by grace, not deserving the gift. Some would argue that he had qualities deep down that the needed. But a biblical understanding of our lives reminds us that anything good and worthy of being chosen is entirely gift!
The Lord has reached out and gifted you. He transforms you from your former "loser" self, and gives you life as His new, baptized child; chosen, royal, and holy in Him. You stand before God as His redeemed, forgiven, and saintly child.
At one point in the film, Green Lantern, the entire earth is in danger from impending doom, as an evil force heads it's way. "The Guardians" decide to cut their losses and give up on earth. But Hal stands before the Guardians, defending himself and the reasons for saving earth. He then proves himself and does it.
The Lord God has not given up on you. You do not have to stand before God defending yourself. Your dear Lord Jesus has already done that! He stood before God in your place, being your Mediator and Defender. He bore the burden of your sin, to be your Savior, and now the Father in His mercy calls and chooses you.
Yes, Jesus stood before the Father, as your substitute, purchasing and transforming you from unworthy losers into God's chosen people. Yes, He placed His Name upon you and chose you; not by sending some dying purple alien with a ring, but in the far more miraculous moment of Baptism! Now yes, you stand before God -- not defending yourselves or justifying your heroic actions. You stand before Him as He rejoices over the saving work of His Son, giving you good deeds that His Son works through you.
As fun as the story is, the film Green Lantern gets things a little backwards. The hero, Hal, is a man who is given god-like powers, and becomes the mediator and savior of the world. The reality is that Jesus Christ is true God, and has become man for you, and is your Mediator and Savior!
And now that He has saved you, purchased and won you, you are indeed "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." Amen.
Rev. Rich Heinz
St. John's Lutheran Church, Chicago, IL