He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
God loves you
God LOVES you
GOD loves you
God loves YOU
Lord Jesus Christ, by your death you took away the sting of death: grant us your servants so to follow you that we may always find you and rejoice in you as the source of life, here and everlasting. Amen.
Jesus went up the mountain – like Moses. What he encountered there – who he encountered there – was not a distant, clockmaker, vengeful deity but the love at the source of all being, who gave him not judgment to render but good news to preach.
And Jesus preached. At the synagogue in Nazareth he took up the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and found his place – and began to read:
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour. (Isaiah 61:1-2a)
John the Baptizer sent word to him from prison. Are you the Messiah we’ve been looking for? Should we be looking for somebody else? What are you doing, cousin J?
And Jesus sent word back, by way of John’s own disciples: You go and tell John what you have seen and you have heard. The blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the dead rise, prisoners hear glad news of freedom and lepers are cleansed. What was he expecting?
What John might have been hoping for was a savior of the military kind – a champion who would grab up the jawbone of an ass, or a sling and five small stones, or just grow out his hair and get busy, like one of the heroes of old – and knock Herod off his throne and send the Roman legions packing. Someone who would declare the day of vengeance of our God – as they say in the movies:
And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall lay my vengeance upon them. (Ezekiel 25:17)
But that is not what he got.
Let this be written above my throne:
My mercy always prevails over my anger.
For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may linger for the night; but joy comes in the morning.
We know that weeping – and we know that compassion.
For in Christ God has become incarnate – has taken on flesh and dwelt among us, as a human being among human beings. He suffered as we have, loved as we have, wept as we have, and – finally – when they thought it was all over, rejoiced as we have.
Darkness is conquered by light; the night passes into everlasting dawning.
Jesus gave his life for us – not just his death; his whole life, a witness to the truth, truth of God’s mercy and love, compassion and justice. Jesus gave his life – but that is not the end of the story. By his death he defeated death. And he arose.
He arose to new life – and victory. He calls us into new life – but not to wait. Not to wait – to take on that new life of Christ, to take on his legacy, now – and begin to live it out.
Begin to be the people who bring the good news of Christ to the world.
Proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind. Bind up the broken-hearted.
Yearn for justice, and be blessed with peace.
Act with compassion, and delight in his mercy.
Work for peace, and let God gather you to him as his own children.
Be pure in heart – cast away the gloom and darkness – and become children of the day.
Live the truth of God’s love – and rejoice: for this is God’s day, and it is meant for joy.
We know that our Redeemer lives – and that we will receive mercy through him.
We know that death is swallowed up in the Victory of the Cross – and we exult in peace.
We know that with Chuck and all the saints, we will be welcomed in the heavenly home.
We know that heaven is doing all right – but there is work to be done on earth.
We know that we are called to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world.
Let’s let that light shine – let’s not hide it; let’s be a city on a hill, a sanctuary and a light.
Let our hearts be places of God’s abiding. Abide in us, Jesus, that we, following in your footsteps, may bring the joy and good news of the reign of God into the world. Amen.