By Joel A. Hess –
Tomorrow I’m doing a funeral for a friend. He loved to win. He competed in everything. When he was 84 and his wife was suffering from Alzheimer’s, he still took pride in beating her and whoever was her partner in Euchre. I think he even cheated to win. He hated losing. Maybe he learned that as kid, maybe from his dad. The world hates losers.
Now, he’s laying in a coffin. Loser. Really. No matter what you do you can’t beat death. Steven Hawking is a so-called genius. He’s in a wheelchair. Loser. If you’re so smart, why are you in a wheelchair?
A couple of years ago, my wife and I had a baby, Simon. He was born with Down syndrome. Loser. He would never be able to truly complete in T-ball. He would never be a doctor or lawyer. He would depend on us forever. Loser. It freaked me out. I felt like such a loser! Like my sperm didn’t work, or this disease came from me! I felt like everyone would know that I’m a loser.
The world hates losers. Don’t let it fool you. We like movies about Forrest Gump and Rain Man. But that’s only because they eventually win, in the movies. They are secretly genius. We don’t like real losers! They should be aborted.
So, Jesus looks at all of us: winners, geniuses, strong men, and heroes. He said to the disciples, who didn’t like losers, “let the little children come to me, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these!” Heaven will ONLY be filled with losers!
Back then, people didn’t look at kids as cute and cuddly. They were losers. They were weak. They needed someone else or they wouldn’t survive. They could not contribute to society. They would lose at any spelling bee, soccer game, political contest. Losers.
Jesus doesn’t say you need to become like these. That’s who you are! No matter how good you try to be, you still screw up. No matter how hard you work, you fall. No matter how strong you think you are, you still end up in a casket like a fool: like the most foolish, weakest person you know, like my son who only lived 3 weeks. What’s the difference between 3 weeks and 87 years compared to 2000? Compared to eternity?
I secretly believe the Lord gives us disabled kids to remind us and the world that is who we are! Disabled, autistic, weak, vulnerable, un-abled, dependent, dying, foolish, sinners, infants. We have a bunch of mentally disabled people who attend our church. They make a ruckus. They rock their feet back and forth with the music. They have to be lead to communion by someone else. They show us who we all are in God’s eyes! Desperately in need of help.
My friend died a loser. But, he died in the arms of the Winner. The only one who loved God and His neighbor perfectly. Yet He became a loser on a cross: arms forced open with nails, crown of thorns mocking His holy head, morons screaming at His suffering soul. Loser!! They yelled! He gave it all up so He could give it all to losers! Freedom from the Law. Freedom from death. Freedom from our inability to win the race to heaven!
And in holy baptism my loser friend was given the title of winner! He was given forgiveness. He did not earn it. He was given the gift of eternal life. He will wear the crown of the winner bestowed on Him who is indeed that! Jesus Christ!
So, relax losers! Put down your fists. Lay down your crowns of sand, of self-promotion, of worldly gains. Who cares what the world says about you. Let them scream. You have been given the victory. You will rise again. You will win and live more than 3 weeks or 87 years. You will live eternally. Thanks be to Jesus who picked us up like those infants so long ago and blessed us.