You’ve seen it in your undergrad classroom, maybe even here. Folks standing up and shyly saying their name, what their degree is, where they’re from, and maybe (if you’re lucky) their favourite Disney movie. (That’s what really separates the chaff from the wheat. I’m looking at you Lion King haters). Then you hear the side conversations that happen. “Oh! You’re from Spartanburg?! No way! Me too! What high school did you go to?” And that’s how connections are made. All of us in this room and at this seminary come from many different places around the world. And our journey has taken us to many different places, maybe even “desert wastes” like the Psalmist says. But what a beautiful mosaic of people and stories that we make up. God, like the Psalmist says, has “gathered us from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.” We are a beautiful microcosm of God’s children. If you don’t know where the person beside you is from, I encourage you to get to know them and their story.
Though our backgrounds and hometowns might be very different, we are all called here by the same God to be equipped and sent for the redeeming and reconciling work in our community and in our world. I thank God for your witness in my life as I partner with you in ministry.
Now, y’all, I wouldn’t be a good Lutheran if I didn’t point out what Paul says to the church at Ephesus. “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” Yes, I know we’ve all heard that a million times, especially you Lutherans. But for some reason that’s where we like to stop thinking about what Paul is saying. Two verses later we hear that God has created us in Christ Jesus for what? Good works? God forbid! The justification we receive through that grace we love to talk about should propel us to get our ass out into a world that is filled with the thirsty, the hungry. The Psalmist says that God “satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” How does that happen? Through the body of Christ. Through us being sent out to God’s children.
Maybe you’re like I am and have so many emotions going through you as you see the effects a broken world over and over on the news: school shootings, threats of nuclear war, sexual exploitation, incurable diseases. Things I can’t understand, things that piss me off, things that make me incredibly sad, things that make me numb. It all seem so insurmountable. Yes, Jesus said “the reign of God has come near.” Honestly, there are some times it just doesn’t sem like it. Maybe like me, you sometimes think: how am I supposed to face all this brokenness?
The good news, y’all, is that we don’t have to face it alone and it’s not up to us to save the world. God calls us, instead, to be agents of redemption and reconciliation. It’s through Christ and Christ alone that the world is saved. Towards the end of the Gospel of John, Jesus tells his disciples to have peace because he has overcome the world.
As people of faith, we have seen and heard about God doing great things: healing the sick, delivering people out of slavery, feeding and taking care of God’s creation. As the Body of Christ alive in the world that God loves, our Lenten reflections might include the question: How will we participate in God's mighty work?
I see this beautiful mosaic of God’s children here as people who are called, empowered, and sent by the Spirit to be active members in God’s work. God calls us to give drink to the thirsty and to fill the hungry with good things. Brothers and Sisters, may God’s grace propel us into a beautifully broken world that needs our mosaic.