If anyone is in Christ she/he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Godself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. (BCP, p.106, 2 For. 5:17-18)
God offers us the chance to be a new creation, every minute of every day. The old can pass away at any time, and the new ushered in with gladness. This isn’t something we do for ourselves – it’s a blessing Christ offers.
Thanks be to God, we respond.
But there’s something missing if we leave it at that. God also gave us the ministry of reconciliation – the joy and responsibility of handing on that reconciliation in our own lives, our own relationships. It’s not an easy or pleasant thing in all times, places, and circumstances. Sometimes, reconciliation is painful, difficult, and at the expense of something we’d rather do or have.
This ministry of reconciliation doesn’t seem like much of a gift compared to the chance to be a new creation. But there it is. I’m going to take it on faith that this ministry of reconciliation is every much the gift that new life is. For that reason, I’ll respond:
One of the following, or some other suitable passage of Scripture, is read.
The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. Romans 5:5 (BCP, p 105)
Yesterday morning, a homeless woman wandered into the library just as the doors were unlocked for the day. She wanted help finding an affordable place to live. The two librarians offered to help as best they could – looking online for options, getting her in touch with local outreach groups, etc. She refused the help; it wasn’t in the form she could accept, so she didn’t.
Before she left, she looked at the books on display and read a few of the notices posted on the board. When she walked out the door twenty minutes later, her circumstances were the same. She was still homeless. But something had changed.
For twenty minutes, two people listened to her. They looked at her, and they talked with her rather than at her. They did the best they could to help, and when the help was refused, they didn’t roll their eyes or offer sarcastic comments. They just stayed in that uncomfortable space.
For me, it was as sure a sign as any that God’s love is alive and well, and the Spirit dwelling in our hearts shows herself in all kinds of circumstances.
One or more of the following may Psalms is sung or said…
Psalm 119: Your word is a lantern to my feet, and a light upon my path.
Psalm 121: I lift up my eyes to the hills; from where is my help to come?
Psalm 126: When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, they were we like those who dream…
It makes a difference, whether you sing or say a psalm. Psalms are poems, sung or spoken in Jewish and Christian worship services. Singing comes from a different place in the heart and brain than speaking does – it’s why people who cannot speak can sing (and swear!).
There are times when I cannot speak to God. Words fail me, or seem incapable of conveying what is most important and true for me. Grief can steal my words; anger can keep me from talking with God; I can murmur memorized words without really paying any attention to them or God.
Singing is different. It bypasses my grief, anger, and complacency. Singing can bring me before God when I most need to be there and I am least able to find my way.
There is such wisdom in setting our prayers to music. Sing along, why don’t you?
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Glory to the Mother, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.
It has a different feel and flavor in the mouth, the glory going to the Mother rather than the Father. It’s not particularly heretical – there are feminine images for God throughout scripture; but it’s not customary or common. So why the insistence on God as male to the exclusion of God as female?
It’s important to notice gender differences, especially if one gender is valued above another as a general rule. But alternating male and female pronouns shouldn’t be the end goal: a deeper awareness of and openness to God’s presence is what we seek. The words are sacred not because of any magical property, but because we are drawn through them into God’s loving embrace.
Isn’t that the point of this often said phrase? God is, was, and will always love us; God holds our past, present, and future; we are never lost to God.