Joshua: “Today, I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt.
Happy are they whose sins are forgiven, Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity,”
Psalm: I will instruct you the way you should go, do not be stubborn like the mule…but trust in the Lord, rejoice and be glad.
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation;5:19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.
15:20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.
God is filled with grace and forgiveness and reconciliation. In Christ, God is reconciling the world unto God. There is unconditional love, boundless grace, inspiring beauty, and heart-melting compassion. When any of us find our way to God, we find there a place with greater expanse then we were led to believe or understand. When any of us find our way to God we wonder, where did I get the idea that you were the God who condemns? Who punished? Who hated persons who were different than we? When any of us find our way to God we recognize the beauty and grace found in all peoples, all ideals and faiths promoting the ways of faith, hope, love, compassion, peace. We wonder how any government can invoke the name of God to wage war? We wonder how any religion or ideology can invoke condemnation upon other religions and ideologies? We wonder how any tradition or system of belief can believe that they hold the exclusive truth and revelation of the divine and cosmic mysteries? We wonder, who created that God who hated the Gays, the western ways, the eastern philosophies, the liberal perspective, the conservative platform? Who is this God of political power and abundant wealth? Who is this God that favors the dominant cultures and powers that inflict segregation, discrimination, and down-right oppression upon the vulnerable peoples they govern? Who was that God who rejected those who could not and would not accept a belief in such a God? Who rejected those who suspended belief and trust in anything beyond their own understanding or reason? Who promoted the highest accountability upon humanity, not for the sake of religious zeal, but for the sake of a better world?
Why did I grow up being taught that Christianity was the only true religion, a gay person was sick, white people are privileged, and men should be in charge? These are all cultural ways that work well for those they favor but that does not mean these ways are the ways of God. In God, through Christ, the whole world is being reconciled, brought forth into the ways of compassion, wellness, equity, and beloved community. In God, I see how BIG God is. I see God greeting all God’s creation coming home from their ways of squandering the riches of God on bigotry, pride, arrogance, greed, discrimination, hatred, and judgment. I see hearts melting for those once hated. I see the right hand shaking the left, both embracing the other in mutual affirmation for a broader view. I see the children of Abraham sharing community together. I see the west affirming the depth of the east, I see the east affirming the wisdom of the west.
I listen to the news about chaos in parliament over Brexit, hunger and revolution in Venezuela, nuclear warfare threatened between superpowers, our own government crippled by partisan ideology and politics. And I hear some proclaim that God is in this restoring the ways of yesterday. It is hard for me to see God in governments, ideologies, or dominance. I don’t see God in great wealth or in poverty. I don’ t see God only with us and not with them. I see God reconciling the world, the whole world, in Christ, NOT IN CHRISTIANITY, but in Christ, the One in whom all live and move and have their being. In Christ, the one who laid down his life for the whole world, not just our part of the world! In Christ, the one who loved his neighbor as himself and included those who were not of his own. In Christ, the one who said do not judge, do not live only for yourself, but love one another as I have loved you. In Christ, the healer, the teacher, the wounded, the redemptive.
We are living through contentious, judgy, factious times. The internet promised world unity but we have made it the voice of contention and hatred. These are not the times to proclaim our own righteousness. This is a time to leave the ways of pigs and self-indulgence and make our way back to the arms of God, the arms of compassion, of forgiveness, of grace, of reconciliation. The only arms big and wide enough to restore beloved community amidst the broad diversity that is the world, the same world God is reconciling in Christ. Amen.