March 27 Edevotional
“So then, from this point on we won’t recognize people by human standards. Even though we used to know Christ by human standards, that isn’t how we know him now. So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived! All of these new things are from God, who reconciled us to God’s self through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)
I am thinking of these words as some of us met with other Reconciling Methodists last Saturday afternoon. What does the word “reconciling” mean. With who or with what are we reconciling ourselves to? What is our “ministry of reconciliation”? How are we a part of “making all things new” in this season of Lent?
The Gospel story for this coming Sunday is Jesus’ parable story of a “certain man with two sons” (Luke 15:1-32) told to the grumbling Pharisees and legal experts, grumbling because Jesus is welcoming tax collectors and sinners. There are always two, it seems. Two sons, two political parties, two plans of a way forward—traditionalist and one church. This certain man had two sons, who, it seems, did not have much of a relationship with each other. In fact, it seems like a fairly dysfunctional family all the way around. A father who mismanages his estate and sets no rules, a younger son who is spoiled silly and does not care at all about Dad or elder brother, elder brother who is angry and resentful, with no mention of a mother (although this is no surprise in the language of patriarchy!)
We know the parable so well. We know how it ends. Who is doing the ministry of reconciliation in this parable? Of course, we think the Dad is. Yet, I wonder…do we think the younger son is reconciling himself to Dad? Does the elder son end up being a part of the ministry of reconciliation? Dad (who may be an alcoholic himself, for all we know), is the one who hikes up his robe and shamelessly runs and dances to the younger son when he sees from afar off. The younger son is just coming back because he wants some more food and money. The elder son seems to know best the rules of reconciliation.
But there are no rules. Not in this story. I keep thinking about the scene at the end of the special General Conference of the United Methodist Church in February. The scene at the end of the fourth day when the traditional plan passes by forty-some votes after a debilitating day of back-and-forth work, tripping through Robert’s Rules of Order. The scene when delegates are dancing in the aisles and around the tables of the voting floor while other delegates are remained seated with tears running down their faces, and bishops and security guards trying to make order.
Oh God, what is our ministry of reconciliation? Lord, teach us the way to truly be a part of Reconciling Ministries Network. Pastor Sherrie