September 10, 2014 by Pastor Ben McIntire
“The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” Romans 13:11-12
At St. Mark Lutheran Church this week, we will hear the story of God choosing Abram, of calling him out of his comfort zone, away from his family and land and all that he knows. The theological word for this is “election,” that God’s choosing Abram sets him apart and makes him special. This is not because Abram was particularly holy or perfect. But because God chose him and blessed him, and through him also blessed the nation of Israel, the whole world received the blessing of God. For hundreds of years later, out of that nation would come Jesus of Nazareth, God in the flesh.
This blessing, this “election,” comes from God unconditionally. We are loved, not because we are so wonderful and sparkly, but because we are God’s creation and our worth comes from outside ourselves from our Creator. But we don’t always feel loved or blessed by God. We have our doubts, we have questions.
Rest assured, we are in good company. Remember some of those folks in the Bible?
“What have we done?” – Adam & Eve
“How can you bless me when I have no children?” – Abraham
“Will you forget your people?” – Moses
“Why are you downcast, oh my soul?” – David
“Are you the one, or should we wait for another?” – John the Baptist
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” – Jesus
(Check out the video The Day is Near on theworkofthepeople.com where you will see these quotes and more!)
As Christians, we are called to put on that “armor of light” that Paul talks about in Romans 13, and meet people who are struggling through the dark places of life. We have been blessed with the gift of faith, and we are called to go out from our comfort zones like Abraham and offer a blessing to others. We are called to offer the hope and the peace and the comfort and the joy that God has offered to us through the life, death and resurrection of Christ. We can tell of the love of God, some of us through our own stories of pain, loss, and suffering–and how God provides a way through even the darkest valleys. We can proclaim to those who are lost in the valley of the shadow of death, “The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is near. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.”
Heavenly Father, remind us that you chose us out of your unconditional love, and so neither our deepest sin nor our greatest acts of righteousness will change your love for us. Bless us and use us to offer your blessing to those who are suffering, grieving, or in any kind of pain. In Jesus’ name, Amen.