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.
We aren’t Christ. We aren’t the savior of this world. But people can see Christ’s love through you. People can see Christ’s grace through you. People can learn about forgiveness and mercy, welcome and love, God’s presence and peace and good news of grace through you.
So when someone asks you for a blessing, don’t look over your shoulder and say, “Who me? I could never do that.” Offer them what you have. Your time. Your ears. Your hands, Your words. Your faith. Go into those dark places with them. God will do the rest.
But all of us have nets that need to be dropped. Because all of us are called by Christ, all of us are called to be transformed.