The following is written by Keith Marshall of Hope Lutheran Church:
Have you ever run into a friend some place you never anticipated seeing them? Perhaps you are at a mutual friend’s party, not knowing you’re both acquaintances with the host. Maybe you are at a Mariners game and while standing in line for a hotdog you see an old friend. Most of the time when this happens there is a sense of surprise and excitement. You both say at the same time, “What are you doing here?”
The exchange of pleasantries begins, but eventually the conversation dwindles and this chance encounter comes to a close. You bid them farewell and get back to your previously scheduled life.
Easter is just a little more than a week away. Being Lutheran, I will soon be neck deep into Holy Week. From Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday I will lead eight worship services. It many ways the services and commitments for this time of the year can feel overwhelming. As a pastor, it means one more sermon to write, one more service to preside at, one more, one more, one more…
However, the reason we celebrate this holiest of weeks is because God showed up in the most unexpected of places. It wasn’t at a party or a baseball game (but he is there, too!). No, God showed up in death. During Holy Week, we make our way to the cross with our savior. This journey reminds us that it was for our sake and on our behalf that God showed up in death. It is in that death and subsequent resurrection in which we have new life and the forgiveness of sins.
God continues to show up in the most unexpected places even today. There is a narrative in our country that God is abandoning the United States. There is a belief that current events such as social inequality, racial tensions and even the upcoming election point to this fact. This assertion is a fallacy.
God is here and God is present. We have that promise from Jesus, “I will be with you always, to the very end of age” (Matthew 28:20). God’s faithfulness and abiding presence are not dependent upon us. However, tensions due to racial and gender inequality are dependent upon us and our sin. Don’t confuse the two.
As we make our way to the cross and Easter, may we recognize the ways in which we divide and not unite. The ways in which we separate and not gather. The ways our sins alienate us from God and others. May we respond by clinging to the one, through whose death and resurrection offers us new and eternal life. Jesus Christ, who meets us in the most unexpected of places – here and now!