Jesus loves me this I know…
Lent 4 March 31, 2019
“Let us therefore be reconciled”
The Rev. Deacon Lisa Kirby
We know the story of the Prodigal Son very well. It and the Epistle are based around the theme of reconciliation. The son and his father are reconciled. The epistle tells us that we are charged with a ministry of reconciliation.
Reconciliation comes from a Greek word meaning change. Reconciliation involves a change in the relationship between God and man, or man and man and perhaps between man and that which God has created—this fragile earth our island home.
It assumes there has been a breakdown in the relationship, but now there is change from a state of disharmony and fragmentation to one of harmony and fellowship. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come. We are that new creation.
Today Paul presents his conviction that reconciliation is what God was doing in the world thru Jesus Christ and it is the work the church is to be part of today.
We are called to a ministry, a service, a diakonia, if you will, of reconciliation grounded in the fact that in Christ, God was reconciling the whole universe to himself. Reconciliation in addition to meaning change means to be brought back together.
Think of couples who separate, but in changing are reconciled, brought back together. Families torn apart by any number of things including my area of interest, alcoholism or addiction. It takes real change, hard change by all parties for these families to be reconciled.
It says on our bulletins that our vision is to be a church that loves the way God loves.
And what is at the root of all reconciliation but love. Paul says we are called to be Ambassadors for Christ which sounds big and lofty but at root it’s simply about love. We can be Ambassadors because we are a new creation, no matter who we are or what we have done.
And to be that new creation is to look at the world thru a new lens---the lens of love. Too often our default way of seeing people is through the lens of otherness. We may, admit it or not, pigeon hole people by stereotype—rich, poor, young, old, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Gay, Straight, liberal, conservative. As much as I would love to think I see everyone the same, as all God’s children, if I’m honest I have to say, that at some level, I do not.
There is a great deal of polarization in our society, there is mistrust. There is discrimination and hatred. People are hurting, people are feeling left out, maybe even within our church walls, people are fearful. It is our job to bring these people into the love of Christ, into the new creation to which WE have been reconciled.
The old hymn says “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so”. What if it said “Jesus loves me this I know, for God’s people show me so”. As God’s people we are called to be the face, hands and feet of Jesus’ love modeling his work of reconciliation.
So what does all this mean for us in these waning days of Lent. If we look back at that for which we sought forgiveness on Ash Wednesday: “our blindness to human need and suffering and our indifference to injustice and cruelty, for uncharitable thoughts toward out neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us” And we prayed that God would accomplish in us the work of his Salvation. And the work of his salvation is reconciliation.
Whom do we, I and you, need to forgive in order to be reconciled to God and man? Against whom do we carry a resentment? Resentments are acid which eats away at the vessel in which it is stored. What old hurt or slight is eating away at you. We must be rid of those resentments or we will die spiritually and be cut off from the sunlight of the spirit.
As we answer the Ash Wed. call to meditate more, let us give this some thought. Perhaps contemplate this in your quiet time at Communion.
If we are to love as God loves, we must forgive as God’s forgives, in order to be reconciled to one another.
“For in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.”
That is our call, that is our mission.
“We entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”, and that is to be reconciled to God, to man, and to all that God has made, and, to strive with God’s help to be a people that loves as God does.