Every single one of us has value as God’s beloved. It does not matter who we are, what we do, what we have, what we don’t do, the good we’ve done, the harm we’ve wrought. God loves and claims us all as beloved. We all have value right now, as we are – broken or whole or somewhere in between. Queer, straight, cis, Trans*, rich, poor, healthy, sick, black, white, brown, red, yellow, educated, uneducated, smart, intellectually impaired, wise, foolish, temporarily able-bodied, disabled, mentally healthy, mentally ill, and all the other unique and wonderful combination of things that make us human. We have a place in the Kingdom. We are called to be Kingdom-builders, all of us – each doing their individual part connected to the whole.
Suicide is one of the most important topics we should be discussing in faith communities and it is the one topic most readily avoided. We believe a lot of misinformation about suicide. We think adolescents have the highest risk, and as a whole they do. However, did you know that middle-aged white men now have the highest rates of suicide? Suicide remains the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. with a growing number of older adults dying by suicide. Churches really need to have this difficult conversation because we have the capacity and the resources to save lives.
Mirrors are helpful most of the time. We benefit from being able to make sure that we look “presentable” before going into public spaces. Sometimes, though, the mirror reveals unpleasant truths. I’m not talking about the distortions I see in the mirror; I know these are false. I’m referring more to the metaphoric mirror, the kind of mirror Nathan held up to David. The one that shows our character flaws and reflects our sins clearly. This kind of mirror is a rare and true gift, if we are brave enough to gaze into it.
Nicodemus is a familiar character. He was a pharisee who snuck off to talk with Jesus in the middle of the night. I wonder what burning question made him take the risk of being seen with Jesus. All we know is that he went to Jesus and affirmed that Jesus was “from God.” Then the conversation just gets weird. And you know what? The Christian church has never made sense of this strange passage in any useful way.