Reading: Isaiah 56:1, 6-8
And we can’t avoid this entirely--we live as broken people in a broken world. There will be hurt. There will be suffering.
But the Holy Spirit gathers the church in many ways and places around the world. God gathers the church as an act of defiance against the divisions we as humans put in place.
Christ’s love is for all, and even in our brokenness he gathers his church for the sake of all the world, for the sake of all. Jesus Christ is the unquenchable light in the darkness, he is eternal life, he is God’s salvation. In Jesus Christ is reconciliation and wholeness for the world.
“Thus says the Lord: Keep Justice. And do righteousness."
(alt. translation) "Maintain Justice. Do what is right.”
Jesus summed up for us righteousness and justice, that is, the law and the prophetic witness, “do to others as you would have them do to you.” The two parts of the great commandment are to love God with all you have, and love your neighbor as yourself, “do to others as you would have them do to you.” In other words:
Look out for one another.
The good news of Jesus Christ is not just something that passively frees a person and gets them a ticket into heaven. It is a word that changes everything. It challenges us to look at every other person and see what God sees: a beloved sinner, for whom Christ died on the cross. And the same Holy Spirit who raised Christ from the dead, empowers you to see as God sees, to live and love as Christ’s light in the darkness. The same Holy Spirit who raised Christ from the dead empowers you, his church, to keep justice, and do righteousness.
And that means looking out for one another. That means standing up to hateful words, actions, ideologies. That means recognizing the incalculable value that every person on this planet has in God’s eyes.
Maintaining Justice and doing righteousness means continuing to be unified in the only thing that can truly unify people--Jesus Christ. There is no law, no person, no nation, no set of values, that can bring all people together. Except Christ. The Holy Spirit alone has the power to unite, in Christ. And brought together in Christ, hate is defeated. Love triumphs. The darkness is revealed and is turned into light.
United with Christ, sin is exposed, forgiven, and it is even transformed into light for the sake of the world.
Only God, in Christ Jesus, has the power to transforms our fears and failings into life for the world. And this is the promise of God, and the work of the Holy Spirit, in God’s people gathered around the Word today.
Jesus Christ, the salvation of God, the righteousness of God has come. He is here. We do not go alone into the darkness of the world, for Christ, the light, goes with us. He is here, his body is gathered around the word of God. He is here, promising forgiveness, reconciliation, and renewed and everlasting life for us, and for the world.
Thus says the Lord, who gathers the outcasts and foreigners,
Who gathers the poor, and the despised, who gathers people of every sexual orientation, every skin color, every political allegiance, and every national origin...
who gathers all to himself:
Jesus Christ, the salvation and righteousness of God,