By REV. JESSICA ROCKHOLD-GAUL
United Methodist Church
Jesus was sure of his identity. When the people praised him as he entered Jerusalem on the back of a lowly donkey his ego did not swell. Jesus was the beloved Son of God and no matter what people surrounding him thought or said or how they acted to him would change his identity or his purpose. The chanting crowds didn't make him pause and wave his hand or blow kisses to people. Jesus kept on marching, the people were with him for the moment but he knew all too well that the chanting crowds would turn into a blood thirsty mob. Jesus had been claimed as God's son at his baptism. Every person who has been baptized has been claimed by God as a beloved child. Jesus was confident of his identity, he was confident that his life had worth and meaning. So when the crowds were with him he marched onward and when the crowds were against him he still journeyed forward.
We are claimed by God as children of the most high. But still we struggle with issues of self-esteem and self-worth. The church can offer a positive identity and connection for those who feel like they have been negatively labeled by society. There are some identities that we associate as being negative and bad: convicted felons, unemployed, HIV positive, diagnosed with a mental illness. As the
church we are meant to offer love and acceptance to those who have
been ignored, rejected, and pushed to the margins of social acceptance.
I was talking to a clergy friend a few weeks back and he shared a story with me that I would like to share with you. He was talking to me about being comfortable in who God made us to be. As a father, he realizes that his children will struggle with issues of identity and self-worth. One day he happened upon his daughter standing in front of the mirror getting ready to school. She combed her hair looked at her reflection in the mirror and without a hint of sarcasm in her voice she said something that touched her father's heart. She said, "I am awesome." Then turned from the mirror and went about her day.
We are awesome and beautiful because we are created by an awesome God!