March 16, 2013

Lenten Journey: Ambassadors for Christ

So whoever is in Christ is a new creation:  the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.  And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us.  We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.
- 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 

For Reflection...

We are beloved of the Father for our own sake and not for our sake alone.

It is the Father's prodigal love that first creates us and then recreates us. We are reconciled within a world immersed in bitter conflict.  The world is, as we were, laboring under the old regime, persisting in enmity not only with God, but with itself.  Give me my inheritance, it says, against its own best good.

We have been there, in the far distant country, but we have come to our senses (Luke 15:17) and made our return.  When we arrived home, we found God's reconciling mercy running down the road to meet us, embracing us before we could utter the words of repentance, fitting us with the finest robes and rings.
We've been to the party, eaten of the fatted calf.  We greet the dawn of our own new creation.

It is from here, from home, that we must set out again.  We have a new job to do.  We have been entrusted with the message of reconciliation.  Our business card reads:  Ambassador for Christ.

God is appealing through us.  What do people see?  Do they see the remnants of the pig sty under the festal garments?  Do we embody the Christ who has stepped into our transgression so we could step into his righteousness?  How are we calling others, inviting them to come to their senses and head for home?  How do we witness to the reality of the welcome of prodigal love?

For Entering In...

- Take a moment to recall your own belovedness before our prodigal God.  Whatever you bring to this moment, God knows it all, and God loves the You who brings it.

Reflect on these questions:
  • Consider some ways that you have acted against your own best good.  How might God be acting in your life, now or in the past, to reconcile you not only to God, but to your own best self?
  • Take time again today to abide in gratitude.  This is not an exercise in guilt:  I ought to be grateful.  Rather, sit in the quiet with the reality of who you are and what you have in your life -- possessions, relationships, gifts, the natural world.  Notice what feels like blessing to your heart, and give thanks for that.
  • How are you living the message of reconciliation?  Where have you experienced being reconciled?  What can you offer to others who need to be reconciled?
  • The prodigal love of the father is the gospel message we are called to preach as ambassadors for Christ.  How have you experienced that prodigal love?  How can you witness to that experience?
  • There is a legend that says Saint Francis of Assisi instructed his charges, "Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words."  How can you -- or do you -- preach the gospel in light of this instruction?
- As you remember your own belovedness in the eyes of God, make a point today to allow someone else to see that prodigal love of God reflected through your eyes back at him or her.

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