Re-creation

Happy Tuesday Everyone!

Last Sunday we read from 2 Corinthians 5 about the New Creation (the great Re-creation I like to call it) that God started in Jesus.

“if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away, see, everything has become new!” (2 Cor 5:17)

This spoke the love of God to me over the weekend and it rings in my ears still. Not only have we been fashioned by the great artist and sustained by the source of all life, this God loves us enough to re-create our world.

You and me included.

Wherever we are at on our journeys, whatever perceived failures or successes we’ve accumulated over the years, you and I are not finished. God is not done with us or our world.

In fact, when I look at each of you, I see glimpses of the Re-creation. I see people who are deeply loved by their Creator, fussed over daily and attended by the Spirit. That’s a fact that simultaneously excites me and injects a little trepidation into my heart; what a privilege it is to live with people loved by an infinite God!

So may that God tend to you today.

And may the sunshine of each new day remind you of God’s love, which is fresh every morning (Lamentations 3:23). Then, when your day is finished, may you rest well knowing that God is awake.

And creating.

Love Extended to the Sky

I have been humbled by the radical love of God. Nowhere do I find a love that is as powerful, consistent, and all-encompassing as the kind that God has shown me, his creature. I am known, cared for, sustained, and embraced by the love of God in Jesus.

And I’m beginning to suspect I’m not the only one.

Of course God loves other people too, but I’m thinking beyond us; if the love of God moves beyond people groups to the whole of humanity, perhaps it envelopes all of God’s creation? Who are we to set limitations on God’s love for the universe God created?

But your love, Lord, extends to the skies;
your faithfulness reaches the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the strongest mountains;
your justice is like the deepest sea.
Lord, you save both humans and animals.

-Psalm 36:5-6

If God’s love extends to the skies, perhaps it extends to the birds in them. Maybe Jesus was serious when he said God fed the sparrows (Matt 6:26) or when the God of Psalm 50 said “I know all the birds of the hills, everything that moves in the field is mine.”

It is more than presumptuous to believe that God-come-in-the-flesh means reconciliation for us alone, as if we were completely independent of the world that nurtures us; it also denies the totality of Christ’s work, through whom God “reconciled all things to himself… whether things on earth or in the heavens” (Col 1:20).

So when we hold a blessing of the animals service (as we will on March 6th), it isn’t a cute moment to indulge the pet lovers among us. It is a powerful statement about the radical love of God. It is a function of grace to embrace other creatures in our fellow-creatureliness. It is taking our call seriously to care for the least among us, especially when the way our industry has subjugated the environment ensures animals come least and last.

God’s love for creation extends to the skies; I pray that love will extend to our hearts and expand them too.

Love and Community

Written over a cup of coffee, scrambled eggs, and a lemon poppy seed biscuit.

There is a quotation from Dietrich Bonhoeffer that I once read, appreciated, and forgot about until yesterday – one I can’t shake this morning. Bonhoeffer was an ethicist, theologian, and rebel pastor during the Nazi occupation of Germany: an all around doer of hard things. He thought hard about the church, fought hard for the church, and left a legacy we would do well to imbibe. He had this to say:

Dietrich Bonhoeffer in 1939

Dietrich Bonhoeffer in 1939.

“The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community, but the person who loves those around them will create community.”

Bonhoeffer knew the destructive power of loving ideas more than people; he lived during a time when social engineering reached its most intense and horrifying pinnacle.

Perhaps I can’t shake his words, because I am the kind of person to entertain ideas and love my dreams. I love to think about the church community in an abstract sense, picking apart what it is, should be, should do. I appreciate the prophetic voices who criticize the institution (as did our Congregational and Reformed forebears) and any who would seek to call the church back to its mission.

But love is more than the intellectual assent to propositions. For Bonhoeffer (and for all of us), love looks like embracing the community that is actually around us. Loving church means loving the concrete persons, the quirky individuals, who are the church.

It’s the same sort of thing in our relationships. We can either love our family and friends for who they are or merely the idea of what we think they ought to be.

And whenever we choose the latter, we risk missing them altogether.

For more from Bonhoeffer on community, read Life Together or (my personal favorite) The Cost of Discipleship.

Cheers,

Allen Marshall O’Brien
Licensed Minister
Elk Grove Congregational Church