I am who you say I am

Finding your identity in God

Holy Trinity Church,  Huddersfield, Sunday 8th March 2020
40 Blogs of Lent: Day 11

The east window at Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield.

“I am who you say I am,” are words from the first song we sang this morning. It set the theme nicely for what was going to be preached later in the service.

I am starting to write this report dressed in pyjamas despite it being only the early part of the afternoon. We got drenched in a rainstorm on the way back from church. But that is not a problem, changing into dry comfortable clothing and having had delicious broccoli and cheese soup; I am happy.

Not so happy at the beginning of the service though. The eyes projected on the screen at the beginning of the service was too much for me. I am autistic and cannot maintain eye contact during a conversation, so that was frightening for me. There were words under the image, I have no idea what they said as I needed to look away. We have a good east window though, I looked at that.

The sermon is the second in a sermon series called “Windows on the cross.” That I remembered in the middle of last week was the same sermon series title that we used in Lent last year, though the topics are taking a different slant. This week’s sermon was on “The cross and identity,” asking the question, “Do you know who I am?”

The rest of this is taken from my notes and memory of the sermon preached by Vicar Mike, but first an aside:

My mind drifted, I found myself thinking about the character Carrot Ironfoundersson in the Discworld series of novels by Terry Pritchett. Carrot is a very large human bur was brought up by dwarves. Despite his size, he always identified as a dwarf. Now on to the sermon:

In days gone by your identity was clear cut. You were male or female, had a certain kind of job, and were from a certain kind of job.

The question now is far from clear cut. There is a lot of anxiety among the young about who you are, You have the choice of a large number of genders and sexualities. (Here I disagree I do not think people choose to be gay or transgender, it is a lot more complicated than that.)

If you shop at Aldi you will only have one or two choices of Tuna. In Sainsbury’s, there may be 20 options. Choice is considered a great thing these days.

An Aside:

Choice is considered a great thing these days. Choice of how to self-identify, said Mike, is part of this. (Again I disagree here, gender identity is not a choice like choosing a tin of tuna.)

That’s the disagreements dealt with. The rest of the sermon I am 100% behind. I shall also point out that disagreeing with Mike on the issues of gender and sexuality is something that does not detract with how well I feel he is leading this church. He has previously said in another sermon that there are different ideas on this issue. However I thought to compare what Mike called a choice in sexuality with choosing tuna at the beginning of a sermon detracted from what was in the large part a good sermon. But it is something that struck me hard, and it is the main thing, unfortunately, that I hve taken away from church today.

What does the Bible say about our identity? Who am I?

From the very start of the Bible, we are told that Humans, us, are made in the image of God. God gave us an identity that is rooted in him.

Many people suffer through a lack of self-esteem. but God says you are my son or daughter who I love. Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness with this question:  If. If you are the Son of God then… The devil tried to make him doubt. We are bombarded with our own ifs.

In the passage from Galatians that the sermon was based on Paul talks about a disagreement he had with Peter. Peter happily ate with the Gentiles in Antioch, but when some other Jewish Christians came up from Jerusalem he stopped eating with them and ate only with other Jews, hiding behind a mask of respectability. Paul twice called Peter a hipocrite in the passage (Galatians 2:11–21).

Paul was a Jew. But had come to realise that real identity is not by living in the law but by being in Christ. Paul no longer identifies as a Jew but in the cross of Jesus. “I have been crucified with Christ,” he said. This is the love of God, the love of Christ who died for me. The old self has been crucified in Jesus, we ate raised as a new person.

There is a problem with individualism. People have been buying all the toilet paper and sanitiser, without a thought for other people, but that will not keep you safe; unless other people’s hands are clean it is not safe for you to go out.

If my heart is distorted, out of my polluted heart comes a whole lot of mess. The way out is to be crucified in Christ. Baptism is going down and rising. Going down in the water is a death and coming up is a resurrection, Jesus comes to live in me. Jesus living in me, this is where Jesus is. This is where my identity is.

What do I place my Identity on?

Loved by God. I am a divine child.

When people retire or are made redundant they can lose their identity. All that they see themselves as is gone if their self-identity was tied up to their position in work, what they did.

It is about death. I am not my job, nor my sexuality. Dying hurts, and this dying to self hurts too. Everything is crucified in Christ. It has to be if we are to become new people.

Polycarp, when he was martyred said, “If you want to know who I am, I am a Christian.” His whole identity was tied up with Christ. He lived for Christ alone.

Points from the end of the sermon to ponder:

  • Do I live for Christ alone?
  • Am I aware of anything God has said to me through this sermon?.
  • Do I recognise we are beloved of God?

I finish these service notes from another song we sang there. “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.”

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