By Sherry Black
A Reading from 2 Corinthians 5:11-21
11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance and not in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. 15 And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.
16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
As I was pursuing a call to ordained ministry, this was one of the passages that particularly spoke to me. We are called to be agents, ambassadors, of reconciliation. Of course, I thought, we need to be reconciled with God, and with ourselves — one might call that healing, wholeness — and with our neighbors. And in fact, this is the fruit of the gospel, that our relationship with God is restored, we are healed, and we are called to love our neighbors, whoever they may be. What a powerful, beautiful concept, to be reconciled, brought into union, and to live in harmony with God, ourselves, and each other.
Before Christ we were separated from God; through Christ’s death and resurrection our relationship with God was restored, made new! Remember when the veil in the temple separating the Holy of Holies from view was torn from top to bottom at the precise moment of Christ’s death? This was the moment of reconciliation; this marked the moment that God began a whole new chapter with his people and the world; the Holy of Holies had been opened. Now Isaiah’s prophecy of “God with us, Emmanuel” is fulfilled. Through Christ’s death, he became the agent of reconciliation, but reconciliation was already in the works: it was God’s initiative in sending Jesus his only begotten Son to live and die for us. Through Christ’s death we are reunited with God! Behold, the new has come! Through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we are saved and made whole within ourselves, enabling us to live in peace and unity with one another.
God reconciled all of creation to himself through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the essence of the gospel. Paul and his colleagues became ambassadors of reconciliation; and now, as the body of Christ, the task falls to us. We are Christ’s emissaries; we are agents of the good news of reconciliation!
The Very Rev. Sherry Black is a second-career Episcopal priest, and has been a full-time hospital chaplain for ten years. She also serves a small mission church as priest-in-charge, and is dean of her deanery.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East
Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral