Friday, February 27, 2009
2 Corinthians 5:20-6:10; Joel 2:1-2; 12-14
(To read the strange dream I had last night - these are getting very common - jump down to the next post)
We're talking about a more important kind of debt than you might first think of. Debt to God. Today's passage from Paul is a beautiful bit of writing by Paul about what it looks like live as "ambassadors for reconciliation." The theme, though, is getting people reconciled to God - a good start for Lent, with the focus on repentance & forgiveness for this communion Sunday. It's rather amazing to think about what Paul was willing, even eager, to suffer if he could reconcile people to God. We don't even like being taken lightly. This guy was tough as nails. He knew what God created him for. He had purpose and drive.
But this Sunday we'll really be focusing more on the Joel 2 passage as we start the Lenten seasion. God says,
"Yet even now, return to me with all your heart - with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Tear your hearts, not just your garments. Return to the Lord your God for he is merciful and compassionate..."
Someone needs to bend that into a song. It's so beautiful, this idea of God waiting for us to return to him humbly, completely. Picture the broken prodigal son who comes to his senses, Jesus says, and turns back to home. The Father is at the door of his home, searching for the lost son. How long had the son been gone? How long had the father waited; scanning the horizon for his rebellious son? And when he sees him, he runs to the boy, lavishing undeserved love and forgiveness upon him. So it is for me. And you.
As Lent begins, it is good to consider ways that we've been prodigals. Take a look at your heart. Tear it open, no matter how vile and ugly it might feel inside. For God is compassionate and merciful.
I had another weird dream last night. This has nothing to do with the sermon, by the way. I was in a high rise hotel near the beach. Someplace warm. I was all alone, maybe on the 15th floor or so. I was in the room with the sliding glass doors shut, looking out over the ocean. The little patio had a wind-shield going about half up made of plastic. I was thinking that it must get really windy sometimes, though it wasn't windy in my dream. This wasn't a place that was familiar to me and the dream just started as I've described. I wondered why I was there, but things changed quickly. As I looked out on the sea, I realized a huge, and I mean HUGE wave was heading in. The hotel was perched right on the ocean for some odd reason, so there was virutally no beach to cross. It slammed into the hotel, and the subsequent splash came all the way up to about 2 floors below me. I wondered what had happened to all those people beneath my floor. As the water receded, I saw plastic wind screens washing away. My room was on a corner; sort of an "L" in the building, so I could peer around my balcony and see people in the room next to me, which was set back a bit further than my room. I looked into their room and their door was wide open; they were laying on top of their covers on the bed watching TV. They seemed oblivious to the sea. Just as I was doing my peeping-tom thing, another wave hit and it was much bigger. It crashed into my window, almost breaking it. My neighbors were not so lucky. The top of this towering wave washed into their room and slapped them right off the bed. One of them was swept out the door.
At that moment, Ana awakened me. Now this is where I'm strange - I love creepy dreams. I hate waking up before they conclude. I tried to go back to sleep for a minute, but that hardly ever works.
So is this about life right now? The economy? Making waves somehow? Hmmm...