Saturday, February 12, 2011

Love and Law

Live a blameless life, I will prosper and bless you, says God to the Israelites. 
That sounds easy, doesn’t it? 
Just do what is right and I will give you more than you ever dreamed of. 
I can almost see them going through their day to day life. The really try to keep all the commandments. But last night one of them didn’t sleep well and so he woke up in a bad mood. And now that person had a fight with his wife. And later, another person really tried to pray with all her heart to God, but she got so caught up with preparing some food that she forgot. And at night, before they could even start to recite the prescribed prayers, they fell asleep. God’s people try and try but they always seems to fall short in living a righteous life. 
The Israelites are not the only one falling short on that: we all do. We all fall short in keeping God’s commandments. We all break God’s heart over and over again with what we do and with what we leave undone. 
Like the Israelites we again and again try to live a better life and be blameless. 
Maybe ...
  • We try to pray more often or...
  • We try to go more often to church... or maybe…. 
  • We try to pledge more money to the congregation.. 
  • and give more money to charities... 
  • We try to be more patient with family and friends... 
We try and try but we also fail and fail. The harder we try to live a good life, the more we seem to fail to do so! 
What can we do to be blameless? What can we do so that God might choose us and include us and bless us? What can we do to avoid those curses our texts talks about?  What?
There is nothing we can do to please God.  
There is nothing left for us to do because God did it for us. God did all the work needed. 
When Jesus died on the cross and rose again he had done all the work that was necessary. Because together with Christ our brokenness died on the cross. Our old being, that being that thinks we have to do something in order for God to love us, died on the cross. And now, in our new life with Christ we can live in that gracious gift: God’s love and forgiveness. This is what it means to be blameless before God: to live and trust in God’s love and forgiveness for us.
This is also what Jesus means when he says: keep God’s commandments. Because those who keep the commandments will just follow the one and important commandment: to trust and love God with the whole heart. Everything else in the commandments are just explanations on how to do so. Those who love will loose their old life, their old being on the cross, and will find new, real life in Jesus. 
Do you remember the beginning of the service? After we confessed our sins? I said, in the name of Jesus Christ you are forgiven. And that is what it means. Through Jesus God forgives you. “But don’t I have to do…” No, you are forgiven. “Just like this?!” Yes, just like this. God has forgiven you. 
And after the sermon we will celebrate Holy Communion. 
You might have heard the words spoken at the table, maybe even over and over again. The body of Christ given for - you! 
Christ comes to you. In the bread and wine. 
Christ invites us to a party. A party to celebrate our forgiveness and our belonging to God. For you! That is God’s gift for us. The body of Christ for you. 
And I have never seen that this gift of God does not reach us. It is not as if the pastor or vicar says: The body of Christ for you (Hand to other side). And I have never heard anyone saying: The body of Christ - no not for you! 
This is the promise God gives the Israelites - and us. We are all members of God’s family. We are all part of god’s love and blessings. Not because we are able to live an unbroken life, but because God choses us and heals us. 
God heals us from our brokenness so that we may be able to receive God’s gift of love and life for us.  
I had a gift like that in my life. When I met Mr. Ringel it took me a long while to see what he tried to show me. 
(I was stuck in what you could call “the friendship mode”.) 
But one day he outright told me: Mrs. Ringel, I love you! 
I could hardly believe that. Me? Why me? I was just another classmate running around on campus. No one special. I hadn’t done anything wonderful. But he loved me and he wanted to be with me. (I sometimes still don’t know why.) But there it is: we are married and still love each other. When Mr. Ringel told me that he loved me, my heart, my feelings changed and I only wanted to spend time with him. I didn’t do anything to make him love me but my heart responded to his love. It answered with my love for him.

This is what happens in our hearts. 
God falls in love with us and chooses us. Just because we are. Not because we did something. And because of that wonderful love - we love back. Not because we feel we have to but because we cannot do anything else. 
Who can resist being loved? 
God loves us. God who loves us so much that God gave God’s only son for us. God loves us so much that God forgives us all our  sins - every single one. 
So today, when you come up for the party,  you will hear God’s words of love to you: The body of Christ for you. Those are not my words to you. Those are God’s words. For you! 
And no matter what might happen in our lives, we will always be in God’s heart and in God’s hands. And I cannot think of a better place to be to begin with!         Amen

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