Summary: Ash Wednesday sermon about reconciliation.
Now Is the Day of Salvation! 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10
The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard once sought to describe the incarnation of God in Christ. He used this simple illustrative story: A certain king was very rich. His power was known throughout the world. But he was most unhappy, for he desired a wife. Without a queen, the vast palace was empty.
One day, while riding through the streets of a small village, he saw a beautiful peasant girl. So lovely was she that the heart of the king was won. He wanted her more than anything he had ever desired. On succeeding days, he would ride by her house on the mere hope of seeing her for a moment in passing. He wondered how he might win her love. He thought, I will draw up a royal decree and require her to be brought before me to become the queen of my land. But, as he considered, he realized that she was a subject and would be forced to obey. He could never be certain that he had won her love.
Then, he said to himself, “I shall call on her in person. I will dress in my finest royal garb, wear my diamond rings, my silver sword, my shiny black boots, and my most colorful tunic. I will overwhelm her and sweep her off her feet to become my bride.” But, as he pondered the idea, he knew that he would always wonder whether she had married him for the riches and power he could give her.
Then, he decided to dress as a peasant, drive to the town, and have his carriage let him off. In disguise, he would approach her house. But, somehow the duplicity of this plan did not appeal to him. At last, he knew what he must do. He would shed his royal robes. He would go to the village and become one of the peasants. He would work and suffer with them. He would actually become a peasant. This he did. And he won his wife. So did God consider how He might win humankind. God in Christ became one of us. He took upon Him the form of human flesh to dwell among us. Paul says, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself.”
This evening it is my greatest desire that we will be reminded of persuade toward an ever deepening and constant acceptance that today is the day of the salvation; that the reconciliation which Christ has made available between God and man is for today, for now, for all areas of life. The Easter story is about reconciliation.
Today is the day of salvation because God, right now, extends to us forgiveness and compels us to embrace that forgiveness for the renovation of our own souls, just as He compels us to share that forgiveness to others for our and their benefit.
Reconciliation is the reciprocal matter of receiving and sharing the overwhelming grace of God in and through our lives; being united with God though faith, according to the sacrifice of Christ, according to God’s grace, and then living a lifestyle of reconciliation; very often through personal sacrifice in identification with our savior.
Reconciliation is not easy. We were reconciled with God through the death of His Son. We are often reconciled with one another through great personal sacrifice. Pope Paul vi said it very well when he stated that “Reconciliation is not weakness or cowardice. It demands courage, nobility, generosity, sometimes heroism, an overcoming of oneself rather than of one’s adversary.”
Very often the wall separating me from reconciliation with someone else is personal pride, personal pain, and or personal sin. Reconciliation is not easy but it is necessary if we are to have the peace of God in our lives.
In order to have peace with God we must be reconciled through Christ, as we accept the free offer of salvation by faith, as we are covered by His blood, washed continually clean and forgiven; reconciled with God our creator.
In order to have peace with others we must then be ambassadors of that very grace with which we have been washed. It’s not enough to stand under the waterfall of grace. It’s not enough to be cleansed.
The cleansing waters of grace cleanse us most thoroughly when we are not stagnant receptacles, but life giving conduits. “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21 NIV)
This is the plainest definition of what the Cross of Christ is all about.