A reminder of faith

The first word of God was love.
“Let there be light,” God said, and the darkness receded.
Before we were even created, we were assured that light always goes before us.
That is God, making a way even when the chaos is unfathomably deep:
through the wilderness and storms of every sort,
through rulers and principalities and powers,
through everything that threatens to divide us and conquer us,
even through death itself.
For in life and in death, we belong to God,
and there is nothing that can loosen the hold God has on us.
To understand the fullness of God is beyond us.
Thankfully, the grace of God has always been big enough
for all of our confusion, questions, doubts and wounds.
While we walk this earth, sin will continue to taunt us;
even Jesus faced temptation.
We do well to follow his example and confront it,
for it was then that “the devil left him, and the angels attended him.”
And oh, how we need to hear from the angels,
for they repeat (and repeat) essential words:
“Do not be afraid.”

The incarnate Word of God was love.
Flesh and bone, heart and breath, human and divine,
living and dying, rising and coming again.
His life models for us how we are to make our way through this world:
his messy, manger birth means we are to show up in inhospitable circumstances;
his ministry means we are to recognize the imprint of God on each face we encounter;
his suffering means we are to be sensitive to the groans and trials of all creation;
his death means we are to bear responsibility for one another;
his rising means that love really is stronger than anything and everything else.
That love invites us to live toward God’s promised day
when we will feed each other rather than fight each other,
when justice will roll down like waters,
when lion and lamb, rich and poor, young and old, enemy and friend
will sit at a shared table and laugh at the delicious wonder of it all.
That love was known to us as Jesus the Christ.
“He cannot be the Messiah… can he?”
O, to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be;
the answer to that question is the eternal “yes” of heaven itself.

The ongoing word of God is love.
Invisible as wind,
ever-present as oxygen,
the Spirit is God keeping the promise, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The Spirit is gentle enough to brush tears from our eyes
and strong enough to provoke the church in bold directions.
We do well to listen for her, for she gathers us:
around the font to remind us God claims us before we even have the capacity to claim God,
and around the table to feed us strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.
She calls our best selves forward and waits, patiently but urgently, for us to catch up.
“Let me see your hands,” Thomas said on the night of the resurrection.
I choose to believe he was honest and curious;
don’t we all wish to lay eyes upon the evidence of what love can do?
To see that is to get a glimpse of the kingdom.
Resurrection is not real for me unless it is real for everyone,
for we are all bound together, a patchwork garment with indestructible seams,
a communion of saints that sings off-key when even a single voice is excluded.
And I have seen a thousand resurrections,
so while we are not home yet, we are surely on the way.
I know this because I am a storyteller who owes everything to those who have gone before.
It is that witness of the church and each of her members,
past and present and still to come,
from Abraham and Sarah to you and me,
that enables me to say with absolute clarity and confidence:
The last word of God will be love.