LENT The Love That Matters

9 “This is like the days of Noah to me:
as I swore that the waters of Noah
should no more go over the earth,
so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you,
and will not rebuke you.
10 For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
(Isaiah 54:9-10 ESV)

The wrath of God came, in flood. And destroyed the whole world.

The wrath of God came, in armies from Babylon — and Rome — a destroyed the city. Took the nation captive, laid us low, ruined us and wrecked us and carried the best of us off into exile. Leaving little but desolation behind.

But no more. God has come to us — in the middle of it all — and said, “I am with you.”

God looked down from the cross, dying, beholding our bloody hands and our angry, frightened, confused, and disbelieving faces, and said, “It is finished.”

It is finished. This task of salvation is done. The wrath of God is spent. No more will the violence of the world, no more will the violence of men, have any meaning. No more will it tell us anything important about ourselves. No more will it contain the judgment of God. We, the people of God, have risen — as our crucified Lord has risen — from the ruin and the wreckage, from the damp and soggy earth, from the suffering and death we so willingly inflict as judgment — and no more shall we face the anger of a God holding us accountable for our sin.

We have been held accountable. We held ourselves accountable, when we killed Jesus, when we sacrificed him to our rage, our fear, our self-righteousness, our self-loathing, and our idolatrous trust in our own ways and means — and said “NO!” to God’s love. Thinking he could die so we can continue to live lives untroubled by the grace of God.

And God … loves anyway.

“Follow me,” the risen Jesus said to his disciples. To those who betrayed and abandoned and murdered him. Follow me.

This is what peace means. This is what love means. This is the never-failing compassion of God.

The flood waters have receded, the sky has cleared, the darkness which fell upon the earth has been dispersed. Death is defeated. We have judged, and been judged, and we have been found wanting. Found ourselves wanting. Our ways do not work anymore — there is no death we can deal that is bigger than life, no hate that can ever defeat love.

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