Say the word, and everyone, everywhere knows the story.
Whether you know the name because you saw the movie, or you know the name because you spent the bulk of your life in the twentieth century, you still know the name. “Titanic” means huge, gargantuan, immense. The word “Titanic,” which rhymes with “gigantic,” brings visions of unstoppable power, immovable force, impenetrable resistance.
The “Titanic” really set the tone for the next hundred years, when 100 million people would be killed in the bloodiest century on record. In that single ship, the most advanced engineering, the heights of luxury and lavish design, the cutting edge of ingenuity . . . were combined and epitomized. There was nothing greater, or grander, than the “Titanic.”
And she sank on her maiden voyage.
The epitome of progress was destroyed by a big chunk of hard, blue water: an iceberg.
Today, our twenty-first century “Titanics” have different names, and more subtle sinkings. Here are the names of some 21st century “Titanics:” Shearson Lehman. Freddie Mac. Fannie Mae. Blockbuster. Pan Am. Polaroid. General Motors. Tyco. Neiman Marcus. Hertz.
So many of us put so much of ourselves and so much of our livelihoods “aboard” these “Titanics.” Why? We were convinced that they were far “too big to fail.”
But eventually the icebergs came, like the coronavirus pandemic.
Nothing . . .
No one . . .
No business . . .
No nation . . .
No ideology . . .
Nothing is . . . “too big to fail.” No matter how large, no matter how powerful, companies and countries that are poorly run, inexpertly handled, extravagantly over-spent: they will fail.
Egyptian Dynasties, Roman Imperialism, Charlemagne’s Rule, the Spanish conquests, Louis 14th, Great Britain’s “Empire of the Sun,” the “Age of America” — all have beginnings and endings. History gives us no example of any nation or company who climbs to the top of the heap and stays there forever.
The true downside of Jesus’ Incarnation is Limitation. That is why Jesus’ ministry and message were not about up and down, success or failure, winning or losing. Fittingly, as one both fully human and fully divine, Jesus got to taste the raw flavor of failure at the very onset of his public ministry. Returning to his hometown of Nazareth Jesus got hit right in his face with the failure of familiarity (Luke 4:14-30).
How could Jesus have anything profound or inspired to offer the people of Nazareth when they had seen him running down the streets with a droopy diaper?
How could this “son of Mary,” with questionable parentage and no social standing, be a possible Messiah?
How could a mere “tekton”, a stone-mason, a metal worker, a wood carver, a day laborer, claim any authority to speak God’s word with divine insight?
And yet he did. Jesus returned to Nazareth. Jesus made a point of going home and facing the ultimate test – the home crowd. He knew the expected consequences. He knew the rumors of rejection, that “familiarity breeds contempt.”
But mostly he knew Nazareth needed the word of God, and he needed to offer the face of God to them first. He longed to give back to them the words of repentance, the spirit of forgiveness, the face of truth, the unction and function of blessing.
But Nazareth could not hear him…. Is America able to hear Jesus today, even with COVID-19 all around us?
These words and thoughts are from Leonard Sweet
How has the pandemic hinted to YOU that America too is not too big to fail?
How has the pandemic shown YOU that Jesus is not too humble to prevail? Why do you say that?