Christ’s welcoming home love – what a gift we have been given!
What do we do as individuals and communities, as we become aware of Christ’s welcoming-home-love? What do we do as we come to see again that Christ has freely purchased our lives with a ransom from the cross that makes of us a new creation? What do we do now that we know that no matter what ever might be lost from us, or however lost we might become, God will never stop trying to bring us home?
In those little daily meditation books available out in the area just outside the sanctuary, there was a story this week of Tony, director of Dar Al-Kalima, a Lutheran school in Bethlehem.
For Tony, stepping into his individual identity as a new creation, welcomed-home-child-of-God means working with the next generation of Palestinians, Christians and Muslims, raising them to be open-minded and ready to “change their community and society.” Every day Tony, with God’s help, is living the reality of Christ’s resurrection, Christ’s welcoming-home-work in his life and through service for the world.
While we are blessedly fortunate to live in a country that does not experience conflict on the level that Palestinians do, we, too, have the opportunity to step into our new creation, welcomed-home-again identities as children of God here in the United States. Not only can we support the work of people such as Tony with our gifts to international efforts, we can keep learning the language of reconciliation through discussions like our Lenten evening study. We can commit and re-commit ourselves to enter the fray of polarizing rhetoric with words of love and truth and justice, compassion and a listening ears and hearts that look for common ground and common threads so that peace can be built in our communities and around the world.
And more. Maybe some of you saw the article from the Living Lutheran on the new creation, welcomed-home-again work of God through the people of Christ‘s Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, who are working with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) to help Hart Lwel, Moo Say, and their four children, refugees from Burma, to resettle in this country. Or how about the way that we here at Redeemer are passing on the new life gift we have received from God through Christ by helping food insecure children this summer through FAMILY of New Paltz and supporting scholarships to help youth and young adults attend the life-changing ministry of Pinecrest Lutheran Leadership School, a week-long summer camp?
“For in Christ there is a new creation; behold, everything old has passed away, everything is made new again…we are ambassadors for Christ”
These are deep words of promise and hope from II Corinthians and the Apostle Paul! Words of promise and hope for us and for people like Tony and those children in Bethlehem. Words of promise and hope for the people of Christ’s Lutheran in Minneapolis and Redeemer, New Paltz as we help refugees and those dealing with food insecurity.
Behold, by Christ we are made again a new creation! Welcomed home again to our new life in Christ, even as the prodigal son was welcomed home after going astray.
Behold, by Christ we are welcomed home again, even if, like the older brother, we never left the household, but got lost in our egos and self-righteousness.
Behold, by Christ we are welcomed home again so that our love for others might be like the father’s love for both sons, crossing the threshold twice - once to welcome the son who was lost back home and once to affirm to the son who never left that all that the father had was his. Each time the father re-affirms that his love for each son would always and forever be abundant and unconditional love.
Oh, what deep words of promise and hope.
This gift of Christ’s unconditional, forgiving and welcoming home love, so beautifully evoked in the famous story of the Prodigal Son, is so vast and deep that it almost defies our comprehension and ability to take it all in.
From before we were in the womb, through life and beyond death of these bodies; named and claimed in the waters of baptism and nourished at the Feast without end: Christ’s unwarranted and unconditional love is poured out for us!
Now, while Christ’s love holds us always, we know of course that it does not always hold sway in our hearts and minds and actions. This is the other side of things, the shadows that lay across our beings in the form of sin and brokenness. Perhaps this is why Christ’s unconditional love rocks us to the deepest core of our beings: for we know how often we have chosen to walk out on God, taking our inheritance and squandering it on dissolute living.
We know how often we have received the first fruits inheritance of love and compassion and mercy (think of the younger son) and then given out grudges and small-minded judgments and leftovers to our fellow human beings. We know how often we have received the first fruits inheritance of security and a framework within which to labor for God’s purposes (think of the older brother) and then become jealous of what someone else seemed to receive and self-righteously stood in judgment of God‘s decision to lavish the same welcoming home love and forgiveness on others we deem unfit to receive such gifts.
Oh yes, we know these shadows and we name again this sin and brokenness because in the face of God‘s love through Jesus on the cross this sin has been and is now and will forever be put to death. We have no need to fear sin nor the naming of it - for God’s love is stronger yet! Christ‘s resurrection song in our lives and this world are more powerful and deep than the sting of sin and we will not lose heart for Christ‘s heart lives in us and lives for us.
And by God’s welcoming-home new creation work we are resurrected by the cross this very day to take up our true identity as inheritors of the Kingdom of God for the sake of serving the world. For the sake of training up children in Bethlehem and helping refugees resettle and aiding those who are food insecure and learning how to foster civil discourse in the world and so, so much more!
We are given new life to bring new life. We are given welcoming-home-love so as to spread welcoming-home-love.
Truly, we are being made ambassadors for Christ, now and forever.
We’re coming home again.
It’s been a long time coming, but we‘re
It’s been a long time that we’ve been
Holding onto lies
Self or mass produced
What silliness to think
God would overlook such
Yet there is room enough to spare
Room enough because God cares
Enough to notice
Enough to send Jesus
To go all out for
Those of us at a
In order to gain for us a
Place in the Kingdom