The love that we have as we live together as brothers and sisters in Christ embraces each person.
God loves with an unconditional love that embraces us regardless of our circumstances. I love the parable of the prodigal son. There is so much love and vice to mine for the pattern of God's love that takes place within our patterns of sin.
The son has left his home and abandoned his past. After a time of sinful living that lives him empty, he returns to his home. He expects only to be treated as a servant in the home. He has no expectation of being treated as a son. He practices his pitch seeking employment. The waiting father sees the lost son, from far away, and begins to run with greetings for him. Sadly this love did not translate to how the older brother treated his returned brother or his father. The older brother demanded to be recognized for his hard work. The older brother understood the framework of transaction. He worked hard, he should be celebrated. Celebration for the older son should be in response to hard work. The waiting father and the older son illustrate the differences between responses framed by love and responses framed by self-righteousness.
I hope that we will treat people the way we have been embraced by God.
How God loves us should organize our community and prioritize our tasks.
The lost generation is a term that is used increasingly to describe the children that are growing up never having any roots in a congregation. Without these roots that once grew in the soil of the church, the notion of an adult bounce back for marriage and baptism of children is described as less likely. But this generation, like every previous generation, will be redeemed by the love of God that is witnessed in the waiting father who celebrates the return of his son. People are not saved by seat time in the pew when they were kids. All people are saved by the Spirit at work through the Word of God delivering us into the righteousness of Christ.
Resentment and frustration with the generation of people who are not in church anymore sounds to me like the older son who is frustrated. The waiting father did not shout anger and silly quips on twitter about his son that left. He waited and he prayed.
We are not going to organize ourselves to reward the people who work hard. We will focus on the love of God that meets people where they are. If we are lost, God will find us and celebrate. If we are caught in pride, God will meet us there and show us our error.
God created each one of us to be in faithful communion with him. Falling and failing, we imagine we have placed ourselves outside of the boundaries of where God's love can reach. We are born sinners and we continue to find ways to sin. What good things can come from our hands? Not much, but the Holy Spirit does good and through people will bring these good works into the world.
Our friendships grow out of our companionship but does not exist just by nearness of presence.
St. Peter was in the water drowning, and he cried, "Lord, save me." He did not need Jesus just be near him, Peter needed Jesus to grab him and lift him up.
Jesus had been walking on the water to the disciples. The disciples saw Jesus, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said. Jesus immediately replied, "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." Peter was invited to join Jesus on the water. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and began to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"
Jesus reached out his hand and caught Peter.
God loves us and he meets us at the point of our need with his hands to catch us. Falling and failing will not erase God's purpose and will for us. God meets us when we fall into temptation. While we were yet still sinners, God loved us in Jesus. The church is not near the community, near the home, near the grief, near the sadness. With the love of Jesus, we meet people where they are at.
We purposefully meet people with love of God.
The love of God is not accidentally in the world. Our heavenly father purposefully loved the world by sending his only beloved son to die for us upon the cross.
The purpose of sharing God's Word in this world is to make manifest the love of God in Christ Jesus.
God has gifted us with a love that we share.
We have words to share. We have a story to tell. Faith comes by hearing. I trust that the church will always be relevant in this world. There is sin and sorrow in this world, and the love of God has come as a balm for the sin-sick soul.