3/30/2019 8:08:34 PM
Reflection: Talking Ourselves Out of Ourselves
Rev. Dr. Frank Crouch, Dean of the Moravian Seminary in Pennsylvania recently wrote: "We have an astounding capacity to talk ourselves out of new creation -- both in our individual lives and in our communities of faith." Today's reading from 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 is Paul's claim that God is in the business of transformation. This transformation is not small in scope nor incremental. Like a car turning into a giant robot, the transformation God invites us into is a transformation that changes everything. When we are in Christ, we are no longer what we were before. We look at the world differently, we live in the world differently, and we relate to God (and each other) in a radically new way. Life with Jesus is a life that cannot do the same old things. Rather, a life with Jesus will reconfigure who we are, turning us into who God imagines us to be.
God's imagination for what is possible with us is centered in the act of reconciliation. Reconciliation is when two people or groups of people work to mend what drove them apart. The act of reconciliation involves more than one side saying "sorry." Reconciliation requires reflection, honesty, humility, and a willingness to be vulnerable. We have to admit our pain and the ways we hurt others. Reconciliation is not about telling someone else to "just get over it," "I didn't mean that," or "that wasn't offensive." Reconciliation, like repentance, is a process where people and communities are honest about what it means to hurt and to be hurt. The ministry of reconciliation, because of Jesus Christ, is what it means to live a Christian life.
But, if we're honest, we have to admit that we don't always know how we can make reconciliation work. It's difficult to discover how we, intentionally or not, hurt others. We, instead, choose to ignore that hurt and we end up pushing aside those whose stories undermine the vision we have of ourselves. But that vision is not the reality of who we are. We are, because of our baptism and our faith, a new creation. The transformation God imagined for you has already begun. The hard work of reconciliation, of living into a new reality where honesty, justice, and love flourish, isn't just possible; it's exactly what God is up to right now. God's love for you is a love that cannot be limited to only you. Rather, Christ's work of reconciling you to God will end up causing you to reconcile with the world around you. That will require difficult conversations. We will be forced to admit the harm we've caused. We will end up shedding tears for ourselves and for the world. Reconciliation is hard but it's also the way through which our neighbors will finally realize that Jesus loved, served, and died for them, too.