Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Home About Worship Music and Arts Parish Life Learning Outreach News Contact
Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Saturday, December 24, 2016

By Heart

The only way we could know God’s heart, God’s love, is by meeting God in the flesh; this is still the only way the world will know, as we enflesh God’s love in the world.

Pr. Joseph G. Crippen
   The Eve of the Nativity of Our Lord
   Texts: Luke 2:1-20; John 1:4, 14, 18; Isaiah 9:2-7

Sisters and brothers in Christ, grace to you, and peace in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

“No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made God known.” (John 1:18)

We have come to this manger tonight, and to this baby, as we always do, through Luke’s eyes. But John tells us what this baby, this manger, means.

God the only Son, who is close to God the Father’s heart, makes God known to us. Like so many, we have longed for God’s coming, for God’s hope, for God’s light, especially in our world that careens ever more wildly toward darkness. But none of us has ever seen God. None of us can know God. Anything we imagine about God is a reflection of our own heart and mind, not of God’s true heart and mind.

Unless God comes to us. Unless God’s true heart is revealed to us, in the flesh. Then we could know.

This is the great wonder of this moment in Bethlehem. Not the familiar elements, animals and straw, angels and shepherds, tired young couple. No, the wonder is that in this baby we are told we see God. This baby, this Son of God, who is close to the Father’s heart, came to make the heart of God known to us.

This baby came that we might know God by heart.

When we are people walking in darkness, it’s hard to understand this.

There is a beauty and sentiment that appeals to us on Christmas, that moves us in music and word, through the light of candles, the smell of pine. Much of this, in the moment, brings peace.

But beyond this moment tonight, it’s a hard world, with frightening things. We will awake with the same problems the world faced before, the same concerns about our lives, about our neighbors’ lives, the same fears. All that makes tonight special can seem just decoration, fluff, in the light of day.

The darkness in which the world walks is real. If God is bringing light into that darkness through this baby, we need to look much more closely at what John says, not simply having a momentary basking tonight in Luke’s manger scene.

If this baby is truly God-with-us, how is that real for tomorrow, not just tonight?

If this birth is God coming to be with us so that we can know God by heart, how is that real right now, in our lives?

The truth is in the baby, but it began centuries before, almost from the moment of creation.

God’s great dilemma with humanity is that love, which is the reason for God’s creating the universe, cannot be taught. So these people on this planet God loved, when they did not live and act in love toward anything – God, the creation, each other – we became a challenge for God.

Given the call to nurture and care for this creation, we disrupted the harmony of nature instead. Given hearts to love each other, we sought our own good above all, to the destruction of our neighbor. Given spirits to reach into the loving life of the Trinity, we placed ourselves as gods.

How could God break through to us? Love was what we were designed for, but love can’t be taught. The Ten Commandments are beautiful teachings on love and how to live in love with God, nature, and each other. We made them an enemy, we treated God’s law as punishment. We wouldn’t listen to the heart behind the teaching.

The Spirit of God was always moving in creation, and through that, throughout human history, God was moving and drawing us to love. But eventually this truth stood out: the only way we could know God’s love is if we met God in the flesh.

Love can only be received, met through the love of another, their grace, their compassion, their embrace. If this world was going to be shaped and moved by love as God intended, God would need to come in person.

We needed to learn God’s love by heart.

When we learn something by heart, it’s embedded in us. We act and operate without thinking, it is second nature. This is how deeply God wanted us to know God’s love. So that we had it by heart. So that it was the fuel for our spirit, the shape of our mind, the purpose of our hearts.

This is why there is a baby in a manger we need to see as God. When God contemplated coming among us, showing us God’s true heart, the answer was obvious to God. God would be born among us as a child, dependent upon human beings for everything. Because for God, the heart of love is vulnerability. Love at its heart is willing to be wounded in order to love, willing to risk all to be open to the other, to God, to the world. Love doesn’t build walls or weapons arsenals. Love doesn’t protect itself.

This is what we know about God by heart. Vulnerability is the way of God’s love, of God’s life, of God’s peace. There’s no need for an artist to draw the shadow of the cross over the manger for us to learn this, either. At the cross we see God’s utter vulnerability, yes. God’s willingness to let us kill rather than to overpower us with might. But we need only see this baby in a manger to see this truth about God’s love already.

God comes to us utterly vulnerable, dependent on us just to live. “Take up your cross,” Jesus said. He could just as easily have said, “Get into your manger.” The love is the same.

And we learned it from this baby.

We can’t teach this love, either. Now we know why God has called us Christ.

If the witness of this baby, who grew to be Christ Jesus, died, rose, and ascended, was the end of God’s plan, the world would be back in the same mess. For the years after this birth, stretching now to 2,000, God would be back to trying to teach us how to love each other, the creation, and God. If it didn’t work before, it’s not likely to now.

The only way to know God’s heart is to meet God in the flesh. That’s where we come in. God’s heart will not be known through doctrine or teaching, through us telling people things. But if we are, as Scripture tells us, God’s enfleshed Christ in the world, well then. Now God’s plan, begun at this manger, can continue to work God’s love in the world.

We cannot tell someone “be not afraid,” and hope it will stick. But we can stand with them as God’s vulnerable love and ease their fear.

We cannot preach to someone “God loves you,” and hope they believe. But we can stand with them as God’s embracing love and show them in person.

We cannot talk about light shining in the darkness and hope people will see it. But we can be God’s light in our lives and our love and it will shine in the deepest night.

The only way we could know God’s heart, God’s love, was by meeting God in the flesh.

That’s how any of us came to faith. We came to faith through the love of God enfleshed in another, begun in this baby whom we worship tonight. When vulnerable love opened to us, embraced us, brought us undeserved forgiveness, unexpected hope, unfamiliar welcome. When one of those who are Christ was love to us, then we knew.

It’s still how we learn God by heart. It’s how the people in darkness still see a great light. When we climb into our own manger, open our lives and hearts to love as we have been loved, when we risk all to be grace, to be love.

Now we know God by heart. Now we can love others that they might also know God by heart.

And so the light shines. And the darkness cannot overcome it.

In the name of Jesus.  Amen

Sunday, December 18, 2016

God Is With Us

When the Triune God enters the world to bring healing and life, it’s inconvenient, it’s unexpected, it looks foolishly weak, it stirs up our lives. But it is still God with us, and it is our life.

Pr. Joseph G. Crippen
   The Fourth Sunday of Advent, cycle A
   Texts: Matthew 1:18-25; Isaiah 7:10-16

Sisters and brothers in Christ, grace to you, and peace in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

Be careful what you wish for, in case you get it.

That’s our Advent warning. We’ve been praying each week that God would come, that God would stir up things (power, hearts, our wills), that in Christ God would heal our world.

But what if God answers our prayers? Are we ready for that? A friend quoted to me one of her teachers, who said, “God coming near is of course what everybody wants, and what nobody wants.”

That’s ridiculous. Of course we all want God with us. But look what happens when God comes near. When the Triune God enters the world to bring healing and life, it’s inconvenient, it’s unexpected, it looks foolishly weak. So if we’re not ready for how God answers our prayers for coming, should we pray them?

The coming of God into the world is always inconvenient, it changes things.

We imagine God as the Great Fixer, who could cut through all red tape and make things right. Whether or not we admit it, part of that hope is then we don’t have to do anything to make a difference, we’re off the hook.

Unfortunately, God’s plan is very different. God looks at the pain and suffering in this world and says, “I need to be with them.” But not as the Great Wizard who instantly forces all things into different shapes and realities. (If God were such a god, our lives would also be radically changed; we forget that. We’re stuck with change either way.)

But God’s way of being with us is coming to us as one of us, in this baby Joseph is trying to understand today, this baby who is the Christ. But the plan continues with filling each of God’s children with the Spirit of God, so each is Christ, anointed, God’s presence in the world. As far back as Abraham and Sarah, this part is always God’s way.

We know this. But we need to remember it when we pray that God come and stir up things. The first thing God always stirs up is our lives.

Whatever Joseph might have been praying, God’s coming tore his life apart.

Did he want the Christ, the Messiah, to come? Probably, though it’s hard to know if the everyday working person in Israel had a lot of time to hope for Messiah.

Whatever he wanted, though, was lost once Mary got pregnant. Hope for a settled life with this woman to whom he was betrothed. Hope for a firstborn of his own, maybe a son to teach his livelihood. All this is shattered with Mary’s announcement that she’s pregnant, and her claim that God is the other parent.

Gentle Jesus sweet and mild in the manger is a lovely image for a Christmas card. But Joseph’s life was utterly changed by God’s coming. So was Mary’s, of course, but today our Gospel focuses on Joseph. This baby was inconvenient, unexpected, weak, dependent upon Joseph’s skill and energy and effort. This baby might have been God’s plan, but without Joseph and Mary it was going nowhere.

We could say the same about our own lives.

Whether or not we like it, like Joseph, we are faced with the reality of God’s coming being exceedingly inconvenient, unexpected, weak, and dependent upon us.

We’d rather God didn’t involve us. The problems we face just in our own lives, let alone the horrors that the world endures, are daunting beyond our ability to grasp. We wake up in the night and realize our worry again. We read the papers or watch the news and fret, get angry, feel despair.

But when we say, “Come to us, God, be with us,” God says, “I am. I’m in you. You have my Spirit.” And then we realize our lives are part of God’s answer. We realize God is stirring things up in the world, beginning with our hearts and lives.

That doesn’t always feel like good news.

If Joseph could have seen the whole story of this baby, from birth to life to teaching to healing to the cross to the resurrection and ascension, maybe he’d have a perspective of hope and expectation.

But like us, all he could see was what changed that day. That moment. Before he could get around the idea that God was changing his life, he had to believe that it was God, and not some other man. The angel dream helped.

But no angel or dream could change the truth that his life was now on a different path, a harder path, one he probably didn’t want, certainly didn’t expect. That’s often where we are when we hear God calling to us.

But here is why we pray in Advent, why we hope, why we say, “Come to us, O God.”

Because we know we want God to be with us. Yes, God’s often inconvenient, and unexpected, and we are weak and dependent. We don’t often know how we can help or if we want to.

But we know the Spirit of God in our hearts, and we know the love of God in our lives. We know the grace of being forgiven and restored. We know the comfort of being guided on our path, and having our eyes opened to ways we can be God’s Christ. We know the joy of God’s community of faith, where we meet God in each other.

And we’ve seen God’s plan actually working. Unlike Joseph, we can see how important he was. We can see countless followers of Christ Jesus the same way, living as Christ over the centuries. We can see God brought healing and life through them.

We don’t always see the inconvenience it caused them, or the suffering, or the fear that they weren’t enough. But we know they felt it, since we do, too.

But like us, they knew God was with them. So they lived, as we do, in hope.

God is with us. That’s the promise. That’s the truth. That’s the sign.

We are the coming of Christ in this world for our time, along with billions more. That might mean changed habits, challenging moments, fearful days. We might, like Joseph, wish for a simpler, calmer life, where God just fixed things and we just lived as we wanted to.

But we don’t always get what we think we want. The grace is we always get what we really want.

We get God, who comes. We get the joy of living in God’s love with each other and with the world, filled with God’s Spirit, never being alone. The hope of God’s healing coming to the world.

Compared to that, what’s a little inconvenience, a little stirring up, a little change? Or even big ones? God has heard our prayer, and is come. In us, in Christ throughout the world, God will heal all things.

That is a prayer worth praying.

In the name of Jesus.  Amen

Sunday, December 11, 2016

What You See and Hear

We know Christ in the world by what we see and hear: the grace and love and healing of God continues to move through a dark world, bringing light and hope.

Pr. Joseph G. Crippen
   The Third Sunday of Advent, cycle A
   Texts: Matthew 11:2-11; Isaiah 35:1-10

Sisters and brothers in Christ, grace to you, and peace in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

“Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”

That’s a powerful Advent question John the Baptizer asks Jesus. Has Christ come, or should we wait for another?

It’s a question filled with sadness, too. John, in prison, sends some of his disciples to Jesus to ask this, because somehow John isn’t sure anymore. John, sent to prepare the way of Christ in the world, wonders as he faces death if Jesus is that Christ. John, who didn’t want to baptize Jesus because he recognized him as the greater One coming, now wonders if he made a mistake. It’s a frightening thought as you face death to wonder if you messed up the one main job you had.

Jesus answered “Go and tell John what you see and hear.” Tell him what’s happening. Ask him what he thinks that means.

But John was seeing and hearing things already. That’s why he asked in the first place.

John was a prophet. His call was to prepare the world for God’s anointed to come.

The Christ, the Messiah, was coming. And John saw a world woefully unprepared. He saw corruption, oppression. He saw people living lives apart from God. He saw in stark terms, in or out, black or white. You either bear fruit or you don’t.

He was in prison for speaking out about what he saw. He rebuked his ruler for marrying his own niece, who also happened to be married to his own brother at the time. John publicly condemned this, and “other evils” Herod had done, Luke tells us. So Herod put John in prison.

But John had been hearing about Jesus’ ministry since his baptism, and it seems to have caused doubt. Earlier, John’s disciples had come to Jesus with another question. John and his disciples practiced fasting as a spiritual discipline, but Jesus and his disciples apparently enjoyed their food and drink. They wondered why, and asked Jesus.

Jesus said you don’t fast when the bridegroom is present, an odd answer. But probably as troubling to John was Jesus’ approach to repentance. Jesus and John both preached it. But instead of proclaiming axes and fire and threatening people, Jesus said, “Follow me.” He invited people to follow him and learn as they went.

He picked flawed people as disciples, and trusted that they’d figure it out. Jesus had standards, no doubt. He called his followers to give up their lives to follow him. But his approach came with invitation, with promise of forgiveness, with proclamations of God’s love. He sought out publicly known sinners and ate with them, instead of publicly rebuking them as failures.

It seems clear the contrast between John’s and Jesus’ approaches were so striking John was finding doubt about his whole mission.

Jesus’ answer to John is brilliant.

He didn’t defend himself, or defend his disciples’ eating and drinking. He didn’t explain his approach. He simply sent John’s disciples back with the evidence of their eyes and ears.

And what did they see and hear Jesus do? Act like the Christ, the Messiah, as Isaiah promised. At Christ’s coming, the eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf unstopped, the lame shall leap like a deer. Jesus was doing all this, and John’s disciples witnessed it. For good measure, Jesus reminded them that they’d seen lepers cleansed, the dead raised, and the good news preached to those who were poor.

Jesus, God’s Christ, has a simple answer for any who wonder if he is whom we claim him, if he’s the one for whom the world has waited: what do you see and hear? What does that tell you?

We likely share more than a little of John’s concerns.

Even some time after Christ Jesus began his ministry, John still looked at a world of corruption and oppression, of violence and evil, where people lived with little regard for living as God’s people. Yet Jesus seemed to act with much less anxiety about what was happening, and with much less prophetic anger. Did he not see what John saw?

“Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” John’s question is our question. In a world of darkness and fear such as ours, we have to know the answer. Even if other generations have thought the same, that they were living in particularly evil times, challenging times, times of tribulation, and even if they really were, we know we, too, live in such times.

And if God isn’t taking the world’s evil seriously enough to come and put an end to all of this, if the coming of Christ at Bethlehem 2,000 years ago still hasn’t changed this world, brought peace on earth, goodwill to all, then we’ve got questions. If we’ve still got to wait, if God’s Messiah is yet to come, we need to know that.

Jesus’ answer to John is Jesus’ answer to us.

And that’s part of our problem. Blind people seeing, deaf people hearing, lame people walking, dead people living, all these were signs Jesus did 2,000 years ago. Such miracles don’t often happen like that anymore. Part of our struggle with faith is that miracles like Jesus did, and restorations of the whole creation and of all people such as we hear promised in Isaiah don’t seem to happen now, and haven’t for some time.

But we’ve forgotten something very important. When Christ Jesus, crucified and risen from the dead, ascended into heaven, he sent the Holy Spirit to fill his followers, to transform them into Christ themselves, anointed ones, Messiahs. Paul claims that we are the Body of Christ and he doesn’t mean it as metaphor. We are, Paul constantly claims, actually Christ in the world, Anointed Ones of God, doing the work of Christ. That was the plan all along. That God would come to us as one of us, and transform us to be God’s Christ in the world ourselves.

So yes, Christ Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, did amazing things when he was here. Perhaps since we are not God ourselves, we can assume the Triune God never expected us to do such things with divine power. And remember, even when Christ Jesus was here, he himself was reluctant to do such miracles. Can’t we assume God knows our limits, our abilities, and knew them when we were called and anointed in baptism? If we are needed as Christ in the world, if the coming of Christ is coming in us to the world, it will be a coming that can use the abilities and gifts that we have.

This is what the Scriptures tell us repeatedly: the followers of Christ Jesus are now Christ. So the “second coming” might just be us.

So if Jesus says, what do you see and hear?, well, what do we?

I see Christ in the world, that’s what I see. Look at all of you, to start with. Dedicated, passionate people who bring light into the darkness every day, sometimes in small and sometimes in large ways. I see Christ everywhere I look here, anointed people who witness to God’s love by bearing the same love in their families, in their daily lives, in this place, in the world. I see people working against the powers of evil, making a difference every day, people with imagination and courage. I see people giving of their wealth to God’s work here and many other places, giving of their time and sweat to bring God’s light and healing hope into this world in more ways than we can count. That’s what I see and hear.

And that’s just this congregation. I see evidence of the same in our sisters and brothers in south Minneapolis all the time. And of course it’s happening in St. Paul, and rural Minnesota, and throughout this country, and throughout the world. Christ is alive and working against the darkness, the corruption, the oppression, the pain, the evil all over this planet.

God never needed us to do the miracles that even God’s Son wasn’t sent to do. God always simply needed us to be us, anointed ones of God, bearing the love and grace that we are given by the Holy Spirit so that the world would be healed.

It’s all in what we look at and listen to.

We can look at all the darkness and evil in the world and worry that God isn’t showing up to get rid of it all. We can spend Advent waiting and watching for that big, bright, flashy moment when God says, all right, we’re cleaning this place up.

Or we can look and listen for where the Triune God has actually said we will see evidence of God’s grace. We can listen and look for signs of Christ in everyday people, starting here, but stretching throughout the world. We can spend our Advent waiting and watching for where God really is coming and bringing life and hope, and we can join in that coming ourselves, as the Christ we are.

If we asked Christ Jesus John’s question, we know what he’d answer. “What do you think? What do you see and hear?” And in that answer we find all the hope our Advent waiting needs, and all the calling we need to go out into the darkness as the light of Christ we are.

In the name of Jesus.  Amen

Friday, December 9, 2016

Sunday, December 4, 2016

That Branches Bear

John preaches repentance and pruning as a present reality oriented to the future, to God’s future, that we live our truth as Christ for the world, bearing fruit for the healing of all things.

Pr. Joseph G. Crippen
   The Second Sunday of Advent, cycle A
   Texts: Matthew 3:1-12; Isaiah 11:1-10

Sisters and brothers in Christ, grace to you, and peace in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

John the Baptist isn’t someone you’d want at a dinner party.

Really, he’s not someone we’d want to speak to us here. His yearly arrival on Second Advent is a shock of harsh critique, threats of axes chopping and fires burning. He’s not good for polite society.

But he is God’s messenger preparing the way for the coming of Christ into the world. John is the one asked to get the people ready, to get us ready for Christ in our lives. For John, that means repentance is needed, literally a changing of our minds, a redirection of our lives. What’s hard is he delivers that message with such threatening language and tone.

But why must we hear John as all or nothing? If some are all good and fruit-bearing and others are all bad and must be cut down, where’s the hope for repentance? There’s no hope for fruit at all if the tree is gone.

But the whole tree doesn’t need to be cut down if it isn’t bearing fruit. Not if fruit is God’s goal. Rather than deforestation of fruitless trees, we might better hear John as preaching a repentance of pruning.

Careful pruning is critical to the plant’s life, to bearing fruit.

John’s axe threatened leaders of the people he thought were hypocritically seeking baptism. Maybe that’s why he was so harsh. Seeing John’s tool more as a pruning knife gives us a vision of preparation where all need trimming, all have dead branches preventing fruit from growing.

Pruning is the gardener’s way of keeping plants healthy and productive. Branches that don’t produce need to be trimmed away so they don’t drain resources from the rest of the plant, so fruit-bearing branches will thrive. Many plants also need the old, dead heads of fruits or flowers cut away after the season, so new buds may come.

Pruning often looks harsh. It leaves a pile of branches and leaves that need to be burned, or composted, in our modern metaphor. Sometimes pruning almost looks like an ax was used, that the plant was reduced to a stump. Our spirea at home need to be pruned almost to nothing for them to come back in the spring bushy and floral. It seems impossible when such pruning is done that new life could return. But that’s how it can.

Which suggests we’ve been looking at repentance in the wrong direction.

Pruning removes the dead parts, the unfruitful branches, the past life of the plant that no longer gives life, so the plant can thrive and grow and bear fruit. Pruning is actually all about the future.

So is repentance. Too often we’re focused only on the past when we consider confession and repentance. We feel regret for past actions, frustration at our continued difficulty at stopping doing things, sadness at pain we’ve caused. We seek forgiveness, and go on our way.

But repentance is not just about the past. The turning of our minds toward God is a present movement oriented to the future. The whole point is turning, shaping, for what is to come. Our future, bearing fruit for God. God’s future, where the world is whole and healed, and enemies live peaceably together.

Grace is also all about what is to come. It’s not just forgiveness that takes away past sin and that’s the end of it. Grace is all about God readying us for a new future, a new life of blessing for this world.

And even if the pruning we need feels as if we’re reduced to a stump, God promises to bring a shoot of new life from the deadest of stumps. That’s grace. God will raise up in us, from what looks dead, a new branch that will become a blessing of life for the world.

But wait. Are we saying that Isaiah’s not just talking about Jesus, the shoot from the dead stump of David’s family tree?

Are we claiming this Messianic prophecy applies not just to Christ Jesus but to us?

Yes, we are. In our baptismal rite we claim for each whom we wash in God’s waters the same seven-fold gifts of the Spirit Isaiah promises the Messiah, the Christ, will have. We lay hands on the head of God’s child and pray for the Spirit of God to come: the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord, the Spirit of delight, of joy, in God’s presence. In baptism, we audaciously claim the anointing of Christ as our own anointing, our own Christ-ing.

This isn’t a new claim. John just said Jesus would bring a baptism with the Holy Spirit. As far back as St. Ambrose we have evidence that this prayer was part of the laying on of hands at baptism, and many of the early Church teachers assumed the seven gifts of the Spirit promised about Christ Jesus in Isaiah are also promised to us.

That means we also are the shoot from the stump, the righteous branch bringing life, not just Jesus. We are God’s Christ life growing up out of what seems dead and gone. We are the ones to help bring in a peaceable reign of God where even enemies delight in each other as dear friends.

So what are we to do about this today, tomorrow? How shall we respond to John?

We begin by claiming our true identity as God’s Christ. You are Christ, so be Christ. Live that truth in your place, in your life. The Spirit of God intended to bring God’s anointing is now laid upon you, upon me, upon the whole Church throughout the world. We begin our response to John by realizing that the coming of Christ for which we are preparing is happening in us.

Knowing this, we can face the pruning knife with much less fear. There are things in us that need removal if we are to be God’s Christ-branch bearing fruit in this world. Things that maybe used to be helpful but now are dead, useless, or worse, taking our energy away from life-giving things. There are sins to which we are tied that trap us, that need to be removed, not for fear of punishment, but because they are pulling us down and keeping us from growing and deepening in our Christ-life.

Letting God’s Spirit prune away these things will hurt. Some of these dead things are familiar and comfortable; some are deeply rooted.

But the Pruner always has the good of the tree in mind, even if the cut is deep. Christ Jesus, who died and rose for our life and the life of the world, sees the true Christ in each of us and rejoices in that life-giving plant. So the cutting away of the deadheads and the useless branches is all to free us to grow and live as the Christ we are.

John might not be great dinner company, but listen to him anyway.

Harsh and loud as he can be, John is God’s chosen messenger to prepare us for the coming of Christ into the world. Much to our surprise, he proclaims that we need to be reshaped and pruned because we are that coming of Christ into the world. Shouting John is the one God needs to wake us up so God’s people begin to bear fruit in this world for the life of the world.

Because this pruning, this repentance, this turning of our minds and lives and hearts to God, is a present truth oriented always to the future, to God’s future. That God’s future might become present reality, a whole, healed, blessed, peaceable world where all bear fruits of love and peace and righteousness and gentleness and grace to each other, to the creation, to God.

This future is coming. Christ is coming. We only just realized Christ is coming in us, too. It’s time we lived that way.

In the name of Jesus.  Amen

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Reconciling in ChristRIC

Copyright 2014 Mount Olive Lutheran Church