I remember a time when I was a child around four years of age, my family was grilling hamburgers in our yard. The coals had been going for a while and the burgers were cooking. I had been warned not to touch the grill because it was very, very hot. For some reason, I had the urge to touch the grill anyway. So, I reached up with my right hand and placed it on the bottom of the grill, the spot where the coals were. I burned my hand instantly.
As I remember this event, what really strikes me about it, is that even more than the pain of the burn, even more than the embarrassment of disregarding the warning not to touch the grill, I remember the loving, gentle arms of my mother as she picked me up, kissed my hurt and rendered first aid. My mother gently rocked me and soothed me with her loving touch. There was no scolding or condemnation, just grace and love and healing.
In May we celebrate Mother’s Day. This day is to honor those who carried us in their wombs for nine months, give or take. They are the ones who nurtured us throughout our lives. I am not dismissing the contributions of you Fathers. Your month is next month! A mother’s love is a love like no other. It is the closest thing to God’s love as we have on earth. A place where we find direction, support, love and forgiveness.
I think the Church is supposed to be a place like that. A place where people who have been burned by life, because of circumstances beyond their control or through bad decisions they have made personally, can find grace, forgiveness, love and acceptance. Too often the church can be a place of judgment and condemnation. Saint Paul writes in Romans 8:1 that "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." No condemnation! Our God, whom is perfectly Holy accepts us. Who are we to judge? Jesus took our sin to the cross, giving His life for us when we were yet sinners.
I love the name "Our Redeemer." Our Redeemer is none other than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. When we understand the depth of God's love for us, and share that love with all of God's people, we will have peace in Christ. This congregation is a safe place to learn about Gods love for us and about God's grace in Jesus Christ. I like that. I like that a lot. The church is really nothing more than a collection of sinners gathered around God's Word and Sacraments. One of those sinners is the pastor. I rejoice that God has called me to serve among you and am excited about our future together in sharing God's great love for us.