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A Reflection for the Third Sunday of Easter

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things…


“…Peter Gomes likes to poke good-natured fun at the way the dynamic plays out between denominations within our own family. In a book with the interesting title The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus, he tells about a guided tour of heaven. The guide takes the visitor through a splendid palace, each room filled with merrymakers. In one room the Baptists are dancing—which they were forbidden to do on earth. Methodists are drinking in another room. Presbyterians are enjoying unaccustomed chaos. Roman Catholics are enjoying guilt without sex. As they turn a corner the guide says, “We must be quiet now: these are Episcopalians, and they think they’re the only ones here.”

The reader, Gomes says, is free to substitute the denomination of their choice. “Some people cannot imagine anyone else in their eternity.” And then, as he so frequently does, Gomes goes deeper, to the heart: “Can serious Christians seriously believe that they are the only ones upon whom God has placed his blessings? If we take the Bible seriously . . . if Jesus Christ is the center of the biblical witness and the one in whom all we know about God is to be found, how do we reconcile his expansive and inclusive behavior with what has so often been the constricted and exclusive practice of the church?” (p. 196).


Your God Is Too Small: that’s the title of a little book, a best-seller, British New Testament scholar J. B. Phillips wrote a generation ago. His words still ring true: “The trouble with many people today is that they have not found a God big enough for modern needs. While their experience of life grows in a score of directions, and their mental horizons have been expanded to the point of bewilderment by world events and scientific discoveries, their ideas of God have remained largely static.”

Jesus taught about and revealed a God who is big enough: a God bigger than human religions, bigger than religious laws and traditions, bigger even than the most sophisticated and sublime descriptions and theologies and creeds. Jesus revealed a God who is so passionately for all people, a God whose love simply knows no boundaries, certainly not the boundaries religion itself has created.

Jesus revealed a God whose love is in the shape of a cross: stretching down from the highest heavens, all the way down to the humblest piece of earth; a love that stretches outward, all the way to the ends of the earth, a love that is for every man and woman and child. Cruciform love—a cruciform God…


So you and I who claim his name are invited to the great adventure of living in that love and extending that love into all the world, to all people, near and far; people like us and people who are radically different; other Christians with whom we may disagree on many issues, maybe all issues; other Christians, Jews, Muslims; people of other faiths and no faith—all of them, each of them a precious child of God, each loved and treasured forever by their creator.


… They got it. They understood what was going on… Ordinary people, living their lives, doing the best they could, like you and me, taking care of business, working hard, caring for their families, trying to make the best of every day, and once a week gathering to be reminded of what it’s all about, that there is a purpose to all of this, that each small life matters, that human life—all of it, mine included, mine and that man’s, that child’s, that woman’s—all of it matters, is precious to a God who loves passionately and whose love simply will not be confined, restricted, but will finally find and embrace each one of us…


The Rev. John Buchanan  “Expansive”  - Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago Illinois

MAY GOD’S BLESSING ABOUND ALL THE MORE – IN 2024!

 

May God Bless you and yours in this EASTER SEASON…

And throughout The Year!           

May God’s Spirit empower us to

“expect great things from God and to attempt great things for God”… 

and

May God Continue to Bless Union Church!

 

-Pastor Mark

 

 

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