Instead, God’s plan in Revelation is God healing this world and making it new. It is God choosing to save and redeem and transform all of creation. And God does it not by separating us out. Not by putting us in our own isolated chambers. Not by keeping us apart. But by inviting us to live all together in one big city. In one huge city, that we all share as one.
Jesus stands on this beach now as the resurrected one, as one who has defeated death, as savior of everlasting life, conqueror over sin, Lord of heaven and earth. And with all that he has already won and accomplished and given for us, Jesus comes to this beach with a surprising, yet simple message. Jesus says, “Come and have breakfast.” Come and join me for a meal on this beach. Come and be around me. Together again.
And it’s the same for so many in our world. So many of us are simply looking for a place to be welcomed, a place to belong, a place where they are wrapped in love and care and invited to come in and stay awhile. Welcome and hospitality are huge themes throughout the Bible because it’s what we so long for, and what’s God gives us so freely. It’s also what we are called to give freely to others.
Whatever the case, I know this: Nothing can keep God from loving us. No sin, no mistake, no voice, no message, no power on earth or heaven or hell can ever separate us from the love of God through Christ Jesus, our Savior. God gave everything, just so that we will know, “You are beloved. You are worthy of God’s love.”
For us today, we think of peace as the absence of war, as anytime there is not explicit violence. But for Jesus, peace meant much more than that. While this gospel is written in Greek, the word Jesus himself would have spoken was “Shalom,” in either Hebrew or Aramaic. Shalom means many things, including peace. But it also means Wholeness. Completeness. Reconciliation. Forgiveness. Right relationships, with others and with God.
Easter is not the end. It is the beginning. It is the beginning of a long journey of faith and discovery – of who we are as redeemed by Christ, of who God is as savior and king and destroyer of death, and of what salvation looks like, not just in the life to come, but here in our world today.
On that cross, two thousand years ago, God lost a son. As the centurion said after Christ’s final breath, “Truly, this man was God’s son.” God’s son died. And Patrick’s words remind me that we don’t serve a God who punishes us with pain, but a God who enters into that pain with us. We serve a God of such extreme freedom and possibility that God was willing to give up a child so that we may be reunited in love
The apostle John tells us, “If we say we are without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” As Christians, our first step is to face racism. Face it in ourselves, in our stories. Face it in our history. Hear the voices of others. Read the parts of our history not always told in history textbooks.
Jesus quickly corrects him. With this act, Jesus is telling Peter and all of us, I came for those who are outside of God’s love. I came for the forsaken. I came for the cursed. Jesus came as God for the Godless.
Today is the first Sunday in Lent. And throughout Christian history, this has been a season of preparation. It is a season that we prepare our hearts and minds and spirits to meet the good news of Easter Sunday.