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December 9, 2018, 12:00 AM

God can use you to help save the world

Good Morning. Grace and peace to you from the triune God. May the words on my lips and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to God.

You are a light and lights are designed not to be put under baskets and hidden away from the world, that is the second half of an interesting mixed metaphor in our gospel today. The first half of that same mixed metaphor is that you have an essence and if you throw away that essence then you become effectively useless. This is then combined with the story of Esther. Esther is interesting because it is the story of God putting someone in an unlikely position and then using that position to save a whole lot of people, in this case the entirety of the Hebrew people under the rule of King Ahasuerus, who seems to have been ruling much of the Middle East. So, we have the unlikely hero, using the light God gave them, by being exactly who they are and not conforming to the world. Yep, that is the God I know and love.

I could stop by simply noting that God will use the essence of who you are, especially when it seems a little out of step with the world, in the places that you find yourself, to do amazing work. You have a light inside of you from God, and an essence that is you. There are things about yourself that you might want to minimize, dilute or shift because they don't seem to be in keeping with the rest of the world. I am not suggesting that you seek to be gruff and abrasive but the reality is, if that is your natural character, I believe from all that I have read in the bible that God will use that to save other people. I believe that gruff person, who seems abrasive to nearly everyone they meet, can be used by God, in their gruffness to save someone else. I still think that the essence and nature of God points to us being kinder and gentler and that God will find more uses for that but it does not undo that if gruff is just who you are, if that is the essence of your saltiness, then God will use gruff to change the world. If your essence is a little stand offish, if your essence is huggy, if your essence is brilliance, if your essence is reserved, if your essence is artsy, if your essence is somewhere in the LGBTQIA+ alphabet soup, if your essence is musical, if your essence is …... well whatever that essence is, God can use it. That does not say we should fail to develop our character or not worry about ethical living, no those are essential traits of being a Christian, but it can take on many flavors and God will use that flavor no matter what it is to help save the world.

I could have stopped at the end of the first paragraph, with, we have the unlikely hero, using the light God gave them, by being exactly who they are and not conforming to the world. That however ignores the reality that God uses our light in the unlikely positions that we find ourselves. Esther, as one of the Hebrew people was an unlikely candidate for queen, but there she found herself and there God used her. You may look around you and think how can my position in the world ever be of any use to God and yet I will assure you that if you will stick to your life of prayer and faith you will see God use all of who you are in all of the places you find yourself to save people.

I one day made a phone call to a person I had not talked to in years, who had been my employee when I worked in another state, who now themselves lived in another state just to be friendly. What I found out some years later is that one phone call happened to be on a day when they were contemplating suicide and they are maybe alive today because I made that one call. You never know when or where God is going to use you to help save some small part of the world. You never know how God is going to use your prior experience to help save the world. You never know what weird situation you are going to find yourself in and suddenly also then start to see God use that position to help save the world. You never know what God is going to do that will allow you and others to testify to the grace that is our Lord.

I could have stopped by repeating the theme of the unlikely hero, in an unlikely position, using that oddity that helps to make them unique to save some body or a whole group of people and maybe added that sometimes we help bring about physical salivation and sometimes we help bring people spiritual salvation. I was reflecting on the eclectic group of people scattered around the globe that I consider friends. I was reflecting also yesterday on the eclectic group of people who see me as their spiritual leader. I was reflecting yesterday on the wonderful and diverse places that I have visited or lived in. And I can tell you that God has used all of this to help bring salvation to the world. It does not always bring about the body that I can see in my minds eye in the places that I can conceive of, but in looking backwards over my life, the using of the whatever it is that is your essence, in whatever position you find yourself, as the light to banish the darkness, rings true in my head.

This rings true in my head not just for who I find myself to be and the places in which I find myself but for those around me. As I reflect on the people I know, who learn to embrace the nature and essence of who they are, God uses that uniqueness to reach people that others could not. As I reflect on some of the unlikely places I have been and people I have known, I can see how God has used them in those spaces to save the people around them. As I reflect on the people I know who dilute their very essence, I see that they become far less effective. It is in our diverse positions, our diverse natures, our diverse individuality, come together, working together, helping the common good, that I have seen God work incredible miracles in ways one could not have predicted.

All of this to say you may find that you are part of the too weird for the weird kid crowd and if that is who you are, you need to embrace it and learn how to live it and learn how to be that person that you are because you are meant to be a light to shining into the darkness, knowing that light will always over come the darkness. If you are wondering why this weird and unexpected placement in the world, rest assured God will use it for the benefit of the world, if we will but let God do it. You may find that you are not where you thought you would be, you may find that your life plan did not unfold the way you preconceived it, you may find yourself living in better or lesser places than you had in the fantasy world of your imagination and yet in all of those, God will use you for the betterment and salvation of the world.

My suggestion is learn to love your little quirks. Learn not to dilute your essence and nature. Learn that the odd place you find yourself is just the very best place you can be. Because God will use the place you are and the quirks of the people around you to help save you even while God is using your quirks in the less than likely space you find yourself to help save others around you.  Thus we have the unlikely hero, using the light God gave them, in the places they find themselves, being exactly who they are and not necessarily conforming to the world. That is the God I know and love and wish to share with you today. Amen.

December 2, 2018, 12:00 AM

Hope in the face of adversity

Good Morning, Grace and Peace to you from the Triune God. May the words on my lips and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to God.

We have Habakkuk, a book in the bible you may never have heard of. We have the disciples falling asleep at a critical moment. We have the first week in Advent, the season of anticipation as we prepare for the arrival of a savior. We have a baptism this morning. And all of this as we acknowledge the news of the world around us and all of the negativity that brings with it. I mean really my synopsis of the news this week might be: Are Trump and Putin going to talk?, Is Trump going to be dragged down by his Russia connections?, What is happening with Brexit?, Which refugees are arriving and which are being turned away at the border (and no this is not just a US question)?, What is the current Israel/Palestine situation?, And then there are the wars, rumors of wars, world AID's day, famines and simple impoverishment that are happening around the world.

So lets start with all the bad news. What are we supposed to do with that problem? There is a constant deluge, if you pay any attention to the news, of negativity and problem. Once in a very long while you will see a human interest piece and some positivity but not very often. In the Old Testament we find that the Hebrew people use a form in the Psalms with some regularity, which Habakkuk has repeated it in today's text. There is this whole back and forth between the people and God, often starting with a complaint and containing some response from God that an answer is coming. This is then closed with some sort of recognition that God is God and we are not. Thus because God is God and sees what we can not, we can maintain hope and continue to worship God. My interpretation of Habakkuk in the final part today is, I am not seeing anything at the moment that would give me hope and yet I know that you God are far bigger than any of this and so I choose to have hope and to continue to pray and to worship you.

So, we have made the decision to stick with God but there is this nagging suspicion that God may not stick with us. And for that I turn to our New Testament text this morning. Jesus took the cream of the crop the three disciples who were at the top of their game, so that they might pray with him, this is right before he is arrested to be taken away and ultimately tried and crucified. This is an important moment and so one would hope the disciples would be there right with Jesus in his moment of need. And what happens, the disciples take a nap. Jesus returns to the disciples after telling them to pray and finds them asleep. Jesus is busy asking to have his life saved and the disciples are tired from the long day and fall asleep. And yet these are the very same disciples who will later be part of launching the church, the same church that baptized thousands on the first days of public ministry. So, apparently God will stick with us, even after we fail God and this is really good news on the day you worry you have failed God.

Choosing to have hope, choosing to continue to pray and to worship, having some reassurance that God will not abandon us even when we totally fail God, is important. These are all great and leave us in a place of hope, despite the world we live in. All of that is why we choose this morning to honor the path left for us by Jesus. Jesus, told us to baptize people and teach them his ways. We are promised in that baptism that we receive forgiveness of our sins are returned to right relationship with God. We are promised that this is a once and done proposition. We do not need to be baptized again and again and again because God chooses not to abandon us even when we get it wrong. God chooses to walk with us as we bear witness in a world that seems to be falling apart. God chooses to support us and bear our burden and our pain when we face this fallen world. God chooses us and we therefore choose God.

And thus we to can practice as the Hebrew people recorded in the bible that form of going to God and lodging our complaint, receiving the answer that God is aware and working on the problem and then we in spite of not seeing the evidence of a solution, choose to continue in hope and prayer and worship of God. We can in the face of all the negatives in this world have the opportunity to tell God what we think of it, receive an answer that might not be obvious or currently visible and remain as the hope filled people of God. And, is that not, in many ways, the message of Advent that we are a people of Hope awaiting the coming savior, trusting that he came once into the world and thus trusting that he will come again into the world. So we choose to baptize another child into this faith that supports us even as the world around us falls apart. What a gift we have to be a people of hope no matter what. What a gift our baptism brings to us as we can look at all that is wrong and remain in our faith. What a gift this infant we await, born to perfectly ordinary parents and thus as God among us. What a gift that we renew each time we acknowledge our brokenness and that God can continue to use us.

I will close by simply suggesting that as we baptize this child this morning you remind yourself of the promises that were given to you in your baptism. I will suggest then, that should bring you a sense a peace, which you will have the opportunity to share. We then come together around the table to be fed with the bread of life and the cup of salvation, that we might be renewed and nourished for the journey. All of this then prepares us to go back out from this place living as a source of light and hope in the world, which very much needs us.

November 25, 2018, 12:00 AM

For the People of God

God morning, grace and peace to you from the triune God and may the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to God.

Jesus loves me this I know, for the bible tells me so. This is what we all want to hear. This is the reality of our faith. This is what brings us back some of the time to church. We have had a bad week at work or with the family and so we come to church because Jesus is the balm to heal all wounds. We are feeling like the whole world is against us but we are ok because we know we are ok in God's eyes. We feel like the whole world is against us but we come into this place and know that we are loved and forgiven as a child of God. We are the people of God, we are a part of the body of Christ and we are thus the hands and feet and hopefully voice of God in our time, working to bring about the kingdom of God, right here, right now, even today.

And then we read from Jeremiah, “Hear the word of the lord all you people of … the Lord, … Amend your ways and your doings, and let me dwell with you in this place.” Wait ---- you mean that I need to change. If I read this correctly then maybe my behavior needs to change. Surely though all that matters is that I have a relationship with Jesus. And yet continue to read and it says, “ Do not trust in these deceptive words: “this is the temple of the Lord...” Phew, we are ok because this was for the people who worshiped in the temple and thought that was all they needed. We have Jesus instead of the temple.

Except, we also read in our Gospel text today about how Jesus turned over the the tables in the temple where they were exchanging money for temple money and selling the animals people would need for the sacrificial offering system. And then Jesus riffs off a quote that links to the Jeremiah text we read today. Maybe Jesus cares how his followers behave and maybe, just maybe Jesus thinks that the things that Jeremiah lists would be a good measuring stick for the way we act. Certainly, though Jesus meant this for the priests and clerics and monks of the church, not the ordinary people.

Then we run into the challenge that there is no more temple on the mount. We run into the problem that the original Christians did not have big beautiful sanctuaries. We have the challenge that at least as Lutherans reading the bible we have come to the concept of “The Priesthood of all Believers” and so we are all of us, each and every one of us implicated to doing the will of Jesus even if it was only commanded of the priestly class. Your body is a temple and you are a part of the priesthood of all believers and so even if Jesus only made this for those serving in the temple you are implicated as well as The Pope, Father Alfaro, Pastor Ginger and myself.

Thus we know that we are implicated to follow this particular notation of the one who redeemed us. Knowing now that this is something Jesus wanted us to follow. Let us look at what we are being asked to uphold. What is the standard that Jesus is putting forward for us, in addition to trusting and knowing that God loves us no matter what. Jeremiah says, “if you truly act justly one with another, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt.” So we must be just with the other believers, support the foreigners, support the orphan and the widow, or if you prefer support those who have no way to support themselves and we must not shed innocent blood. One more time, those of us who love Jesus need to treat other believers well, support the foreigners, provide for those who have no means and not shed innocent blood. I think I can do this.

Oh wait --- the text goes on. I could accept this first list but what else can there be. We read on and it says, “ 9Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, 10and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are safe!’—only to go on doing all these abominations? 11Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your sight? You know, I too am watching.” Well I suppose this is the ten commandments read backwards and maybe that is reasonable. Therefore, no stealing, no murdering, no adultery and no other gods. Ok, ok, ok … So treat my brothers and sisters in Christ well, make the world better for the foreigner, care for those with no means, don't murder or hurt the other, don't steal from my neighbor even if it is his or her beautiful spouse and worship God. That might be a reasonable list.

It is interesting too because we all like the forgiveness of sins. We all like that Jesus loves us no matter what. We all claim the relationship with Jesus and thus with God. And yet we want it to stop there. We want Jesus to be the justification to do what seems right to us. We do not want to change our ways. We want to have God love the foibles and faults instead of loving us in spite of the foibles and faults. Yet we find that God loves us in spite of, not because of, the foibles and faults. What we find is a God that asks us if we truly have come to the table to be fed to leave some of our baggage behind. We find that while legalism in following rules does not help us we are expected to act in accordance with a set of standards.


We in the United States at least and many other places in my experience, get complacent because our society is structured to give us the illusion we are in control of our own destiny. We have the illusion that we report to no one. We have the illusion, if we are not careful, that we are God because after all is not God the one who controls the grand ark of destiny, is not God the one we should be reporting to, is not God truly God and we are not. And do you really want to be God with the fate of billions of people to look after being your responsibility. How much better if we stick to our little corner and doing the best we can to follow the rules laid out for us by Jesus. And thankfully, Jesus points us in the right direction with Love God, Love Your Neighbor, Love Yourself.

God loves you. Jesus loves you. The Holy Spirit will be with you no matter what. Thus we get the opportunity to learn a better way. Having the opportunity to know how God would want it done, it does seem to me logical that we might try to live it out and having re-reviewed Jesus command to love God (check), love my neighbor or if you prefer love all other humans (well mostly) and love yourself, which ps does not mean never eat sweets nor does it mean become the glutton because one harms our psyche and one harms our body. Given all of the above Jesus loves you and so now you get the opportunity to care for yourself and others. Jesus has forgiven you sin so you have the freedom to practice repentance or being sorry enough not to do it again. The Holy Spirit is with you, day in a day out, so that you never have to operate without basic guidance. Therefore let us give thanks so that we might go forth to love and serve the Lord.

November 18, 2018, 12:00 AM

Pledge Sunday

Good Morning. Grace and peace to you from the Triune God. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to you God.

This is the Sunday when we dedicate pledge cards. So, we are obviously working on questions of financial stewardship and with that comes questions of “whole life” stewardship. Always put the money last in that equation they tell us. I recently went to a multi-day conference on stewardship to find out what the best current thinking is and it revolves around generosity.

Stewardship education for pastors was telling us how the human being feels better when they are generous. We humans are wired to feel better when we give something to another, whether that is a financial matter or simply using one of our talents to better the other persons life. When you give a gift it feels good. When you find a need you can fill, you feel worthwhile. When you do a good deed there is an internal reward in addition to the external rewards you might receive. So, we are to encourage generosity and do it throughout the year instead of just for one Sunday or one month out of the year.

Now as Lutherans this generosity comes about as a response of gratitude for what God has done for us. God in God's infinite wisdom, so very much wanted a relationship with you and I that God chose to do that which was necessary for our salvation and then offer it to us as a free gift. God sent Jesus, who paid the ultimate price but in his sinless death and in his ability to conquer death paved the way back to God for us. All we have to do is have faith and even the faith we need to accept this free gift was placed into us by God so that it is no action of our own that saves us and for that we are forever grateful and so we give back. We give our tithe of money and possessions. We give our time to help the church along in its work. We give of our talents freely and generously because they also are a gift from God.

Now unfortunately, we live in a world and that world instead of barter has come to prefer money to stuff, although the church has a long history of collecting stuff and using that to help our efforts, whether by giving it to the needy or by turning it into cash to fund our projects. The church has also come to understand that while having faith that something will happen is important, so is planning for the future. This planning for the future often takes the form of a budget and usually a financial plan but that is not necessarily the only way.

Did you know that in the last year something in the neighborhood of 5,500 times someone worshiped on this campus. Speaking of generosity I am sure that there are a few hundred hours of time and talent, donated along with the materials to make the over 100 quilts that we gave away and until the last week or two this effort has continued. A couple of hundred hours have been donated to make it possible for us to have a food pantry that stocks not only dry and canned goods but also frozen foods that were left over from restaurants and so not only helps to feed people but also helps to keep perfectly edible food out of the landfill. Over 1000 times someone has been able to access recovery services through Alcoholics Anonymous. The Cub Scouts, a organization that encourages the faith of young boys and girls, has a place to meet and grow and learn because we donate space to them. Over 100 children get an early childhood education in a loving, caring, nurturing and Christian environment that not only focuses on learning numbers, letters, and social skills but also practicing regular prayer and times of worship. And the list could go on.

All of these are possible because we have a building in which to house these activities. Some activities will go away and new ones will come along but the reality is all of these things need a space in which to occur if they are going to happen. This building then becomes one of the tools we have for ministering to the community and good stewardship means that over the last three weeks, something in the neighborhood of 50 hours was donated to get the exterior lights working again. Good stewardship of the ministry resource known as the building also means having a budget to fund things we can not donate like electricity, new air conditioners, water, sewer and the like. 

Unfortunately, at some point it does also mean money and so we ask you to consider what your response to God's provision in your life will be and then share that with us. But even this is an opportunity for us to consider how God has blessed us. Even this is an opportunity for a grateful response that then also helps those who serve in leadership roles of this church prepare a budget, which then is presented back to you. Hence the pledges, because it is a way for us to know whether we are on track with last year, well above last year or should plan on tightening the belt in the coming year. Pledges then serve the purpose of being an intentional time during the year to consider how God has blessed you. Pledges serve as a way for us to help you know whether you are on track during the year, and we have solved the issue of getting the information in the computer, so you should have a third quarter statement of giving. So, Pledges help us to plan for the coming year and hopefully help you plan as well.

You may be wondering where our bible lesson fits in to all of this. Isaiah gives us this wonderful vision in the second chapter, of a time that is in the future when war will cease. We also know from the new testament that the day will come when we will eat from the tree of life in the middle of the garden and drink from the river of life that flows through. The world now more that ever needs that voice in the wilderness calling out and saying that we need to end the wars. The world more than ever needs that voice that calls out with the Good News that we are loved and forgiven by our creator, who wants more than anything a relationship with us, if we will but turn toward God for a moment. The world needs our voice reminding it to care for the widow and the orphan and to not forget about or treat poorly those who are incarcerated. The world needs to hear that it is possible to beat the swords into plowshares or maybe in today's terms it is possible to turn F15 fighter jets into battery driven, solar powered, tractors for harvesting wheat to feed the hungry masses. That voice the world needs must gather together to be nourished and reminded that we are loved and forgiven, that you are loved and forgiven so that we continue to have the strength and grace to pronounce the love of God to all whom we should meet along the way. It is our calling to help make the world a place that beats swords into plowshares and it is our glory to do it by serving God and it is our nourishment from that very same God that gives us the healing, the strength and the wisdom to help make the world a better place in all we do.

So this morning we will ask those of you who are able to make a pledge. Feel free to write in other pledges you will make on the back of the card. We will ask God to bless the pledges and more importantly to bless us that we might be able to fulfill those pledges. We remember that we are loved and forgiven, nourished by the grace and love of God. And we go forth from this time of nourishment to be the voice in the wilderness calling the world to a time when swords can be plowshares.

November 11, 2018, 12:00 AM

The Inclusive Church

Grace and Peace to you from the Triune God. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to God.

The church is an interesting space. So long as you are not making it an unsafe space for others or misbehaving badly we let you stay. If you look funny that is not a problem. If you have little or no money that is not a problem. If you are rich that is not a problem. If you have twenty children or if you never had children that is not a problem. If you are long term married, or always single, or divorced, or widowed, whether or not you remarried that is not a problem, you are welcome here at church. We try to make the church a place where “All Are Welcome.”

Making sure all are welcome is not always easy. We as humans have a tremendous propensity to order and categorize life including people. We look for people who are categorized as being “like us” or who are in a grouping we would like to be in and spend our time with those people. We look for people who are categorized as not like us so that we can avoid them. Yes, these are broad generalizations but it is the tendency of humans as a species to prefer those who are like us and to dislike those who are not like us.  Interestingly, we are not alone, it is broadly true of sentient beings that they prefer the like and the number of us who say human being means like me is relatively small. As we read the bible, we come to understand that this is not new but something that humanity has been struggling with from its very start.

Working to see Human as the inclusive category is something that we as the church have been doing since the beginning. For all we try to make the church a place of welcome, Grace holds a special place in the church world. It has been the case that Sunday morning is the most segregated space in the United States. We have historically black denominations as well as historically white denominations. Since we tend to worship in our mother tongue that also means that we have churches designed for people who speak English as well as  for people who speak Spanish, Creole, Mandarin, Japanese, German, Swedish, Norwegian and a few other languages. Please note that I am referring in the list of languages only to the ELCA Lutheran churches and the list is not comprehensive.

We segregated by language even within the ELCA and because we tend to go to church in our neighborhood it is also true that the church tends to be segregated socio economically. Not that we tried to do this but it has largely happened for a number of societal reasons. It has also happened because we tend to hang out with people like us and that means we tend to invite people like us. Additionally, I am not sure about you but no matter how inviting the church is that worships in Mandarin, I am likely to be lost for most of the service and so will likely choose a different congregation to visit the following week. Now in German or Spanish I know enough to follow along and it would be good practice, so I might go if only for the practice. We see the same thing here sometimes when people, like the feel of our congregation and so they stay even though they are primarily Spanish speakers but have enough English to follow along. 

I am pretty sure that while the segregation of worship space has happened for all of history that was not what Jesus had in mind. Consider our gospel text this morning Jesus meets and goes to dinner at Matthews house. We look and read that Jesus went to dinner at the house of one of the writers of a Gospel and so we think why not. Jesus' peers however looked at it differently. Jesus' peers saw that Matthew was a tax collector, one of the most despised members of society. You see tax collectors first and foremost collected money on behalf of the evil empire but then so that they could make a living they were empowered by the empire to extort money from you above and beyond your taxes. So, they collected the tax and a surcharge on top of the tax. Whatever they collected as surcharges was theirs to keep and so they tended to push for large surcharges and thus Tax Collectors became almost despised and yet here we read that Jesus went to dinner with Matthew, a tax collector, who had apparently also invited some of his friends and since we tend to hang with people like ourselves, the friends happened to be tax collectors and sinners as well.

The well meaning people around Jesus wanted to protect Jesus from these “bad men.” Well meaning people wanted to make sure that Jesus understood the kind of people he was sitting with. Well meaning people wanted to make sure that Jesus did not submarine his ministry accidentally by hanging with the wrong group of people. So these well meaning people went to Jesus to ask him, right. No they went to his disciples and asked why he was eating with Tax Collectors and Sinners. Why is your teacher eating with these people does he not know what they are in our society. In good human fashion they triangulated in the disciples of Jesus to try and resolve their anxiety over Jesus eating with “those people.”

Thankfully, as tends to be the case when you are talking about someone who just happens to be part of the Almighty, his super hearing picked up on what they were saying. Jesus heard what they were talking about and gives this short monologue, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” Mat 9:12-13

Can I simply say that this is really good news for you and for me. Jesus acknowledging that he is with people that are not “the right kind of people” is good news for you and for me. Jesus' monologue is good news for you and for me because it includes us. Jesus came not to help those who get it ALL perfectly, ALL the time but those who have made some mistakes along the way. Jesus came not for those who perfectly abide by the law and will of God but to reconcile the sinner. Then Jesus makes the reference to our first text and one that has been used to promote inclusion in the church over time. That last little phrase at the end of our passage from Micah that reads Do Justice, Love Kindness, Walk Humbly before your God. Alternatively, it has been translated Do Justice, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly. It is really good news that in some ways this church better represents the kingdom than many, in that we do end up with a diversity of people here. This is really good news for us personally, because it means that we are welcome here. This means that Jesus wants us to be here as well as that “other” person who is not from our group. You and I are loved and forgiven and welcomed into this place and to God's table to receive the same mercy and forgiveness that the tax collectors and sinners were receiving that evening and that all who enter here will receive.

The church may have ended up segregated in many places because it is run by fallible, fallen human beings. The church may have ended up separated by socio-economic standards because we humans tend to hang only with our own. The church may have ended up separated and segregated but that was not what Jesus intended and that is really good news for us because it means that we are loved and forgiven and welcomed into this place. We are the tax collectors and sinners that Jesus was eating with that evening who need the great physician to help heal us. We are those who have been brought to the table by Jesus in spite of our foibles and flaws. We may ask what God demands for this grace and the answer is not great sacrifice but instead to change how we live so that we reach out to other broken and hurting tax collectors and sinners. God only demands that we share what we first received. God only asks that we share with other tax collectors and sinners the great love that brought us forgiveness and healing in our moment of need. So, I send you forth from here knowing that you are loved, forgiven and healed so that you can share love, forgiveness and healing with a world very much in need.

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