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The Rev. Stephen McKinney-Whitaker The Rev. Stephen McKinney-Whitaker

The Rev. Stephen McKinney-Whitaker is co-pastor at United Presbyterian Church in Peoria, Il. He also works with the Presbytery of Great Rivers as an Electronic Communications and Media Technology Consultant.

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Choose the Form

July 12, 2013

Do you remember the first Ghostbusters movie?  The Ghostbusters had to do battle with Gozer the Traveller, or Gozer the Destructor as he was known by his friends.  The interesting thing about Gozer is that Gozer doesn’t have a set form. Rick Moranis’s Character Lewis, while possessed by the Gatekeeper, tells us that:

“During the rectification of the Vuldronaii, the Traveller came as a large and moving Torb. Then, during the third reconciliation of the last of the Meketrex Supplicants, they chose a new form for him -- that of a Giant Sloar!
Many Shubs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Sloar that day I can tell you!”

 The Ghostbusters find themselves on top of a building in the heart of the city with Gozer, and Gozer demands they choose the form of the Destructor.

 

Imagine if you had to choose the form for a god.  Imagine if you were asked to choose the form for the God, the God of Israel, Yahweh. The people of Israel all had ideas of what God should like: a pillar of fire, a burning bush that isn’t consumed, a roaring lion. No one expected God would humble God’s self and take the form of a servant. Even when God was born as a baby in a stable; the people didn’t believe he’d be a servant.

Herod was convinced the Messiah would take the form of a military ruler who would usurp his throne, and so Herod tried to end him. The Jews who celebrated the Passover in Jerusalem when Jesus came to visit also believed the Messiah would take the form of a Davidic ruler, who would restore the kingdom of Israel. So they praised him with the psalms of ascent, waved palm branches, a royal welcome, and shouted Hosanna.

But God did not come in the form of a mighty lion to lead God’s armies against the forces of evil and oppression. In the Book of Revelation, John sees the Lion of Judah in the form of a slain lamb. God did come in the form of a Davidic king who would sit on the throne on Mount Zion to be served by the people. Christ says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

God does not take up the sword, the shield, and chariot to free God’s people. God, in Christ, picks up the basin, the water pitcher, and the towel as the lowest and humblest servant to wash our feet (John 13). God does not sit on a throne fit for kings, God hangs on a cross fit for criminals.

God in Christ takes on the form of a servant and asks anyone who desires to follow him to take up the basin, the water pitcher, and the towel and to take up the cross. That’s what it means to follow Christ:to choose the form of a servant in order to serve and give your life away.

As Christians, we have to choose the form of the church.

What form will you take as a Christian and what form will your church take? Will you be a Christian that just worships on Sunday, that judges others, that relishes in self-righteous condemnation, or that thinks the church is there to meet your needs and your wants?

Will your church be inwardly focused on its own needs giving the occasional token mission handout? Will the church be exclusive? Will the church look like a country club of the elite? Will it be a place of fellowship and social life or a place of service and social transformation?

Choose the form. Will you be a Christian who picks up the basin, the water pitcher, and the towel in order to serve others because you love them so much? Will you be the Christian who takes up the cross and dies to self so that others might live? Will your church follow the form God chose to take? It's up to you: choose the form.


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