I won’t go into my own problems with math; suffice it to say, that once my high school guidance counselor told me I didn’t have to take any more math I didn’t. As far as God’s math skills, well, three persons equals one God, one God equals three persons in unity… even I know that one does not equal three; I guess unless you happen to be God and then maybe it makes some sense. This seems like a good time to bring in the concept of a holy mystery.
There are some wonderful verses in our readings today that really spoke to me this week. The first is from our Gospel of John, “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Did you hear that? Jesus, whom we know as God in the flesh, did not come to earth in order to condemn the world, because “God so loved the world”. God came as Jesus in order to save us, not just in our deaths but also in our lives here and now today. Being saved by God, means that God’s Holy Spirit lives within us, it means that the Spirit prays through us and with us so that we might be closer to God and to each other. Jesus came so that we might know God personally, intimately, and as fully as possible on Earth. Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us… and his relationship with the Father, is I think what the gift of the Holy Spirit is… it is the love of God, the pure, challenging, all encompassing love of the God who created us and everything that is, that we learn and experience through Jesus… God became human in Jesus so that God could be in relationship with us in ways God had not been with us before… and the love of God is so powerful that the world is saved through it.
The other piece from our readings today that touched me this week is from our passage from Romans, “but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ”. Wow… what an idea. Back when I was a member of a young adult ministry, our much beloved priest and mentor once said to me that I was entitled to have a wonderful and active sense of self esteem and self love because it all came from God; that because God adopted me, adopted ME, that I was loved beyond measure, and that any of the bad things that people tried to pin on me to bring me down simply weren’t true because I was a child of God, adopted by God as a sibling of Jesus.
It’s true, beloved. It’s true for me; it’s true for you, just as it was true for Paul. Because the love of God dwells within us, because God has chosen to adopt us as His beloved children, our sense of who we are needs to be a sense of those who are loved; and, because Jesus came to save the world and not condemn it, then all people belong to God just as we do; and for us, that means that the same love of God that exists between Jesus and the Father, that same love of God that dwells in us and prays in us should be turning our prayers into action… the kind of loving action that we have watched Jesus do in scripture, and the kind of loving action that we have experienced as adopted children of God… Action that shows our love of God by loving our neighbor, not just the neighbors we know but the neighbors we do not know. There are no strangers in the kingdom of God, because the whole world belongs to God and is loved by God. Our job, if you will, is not only to believe that’s true, but to act like it’s true. The love of God that is found in the Holy Spirit should be convicting us every single day that we are all children of God. Have you ever noticed that usually when I send an email to the parish that I address is to “Beloved”? Have you ever wondered why? I do that to remind all of us that we are, in fact, God’s own beloved. So don’t forget. That knowledge saves lives; I know that it has saved mine.
So, unlike the algebra of my high school days, this is knowledge I can and must use every single day of my life. And while my own math skills leave much to be desired, and I haven’t used much algebra in my life, God’s math is wonderfully perfect. I wonder… How are each of us going to use God’s math today and every day?