Open door policy

Jesus identifies himself with a gate. The word, ‘gate’, appears several times in this Gospel text today.[1] Unlike “bread”[2], “light”[3], “vine”[4]—all natural and organic analogies created by God— “gate” is the only “I am” saying by Jesus in the New Testament that is built by human hands. 

That’s significant. Because unlike bread, light or a plant a gate is not meant to be the central focus of what is going on around it. A gate is merely a way through on a journey or intention that begins before approaching it and leads to somewhere else after leaving it. It is functional, serving a larger purpose. 

It is meant to be experienced. You experience passing through a gate, and what it signifies: a means to an end, a transition from one place to another. Today we receive an image to help us move into places of resurrection.

During the Easter season we consider being the presence of the living Christ to the world today. We hear the Easter message of new life in the conclusion of this Gospel text today; Jesus came so that “we may have life and have life abundantly.”[5]

A biblical professor of mine from my seminary days talked about it this way: The bouncing ball over time. The ball starts its journey by being dropped to the earth. 

God, in a sense, takes this direction or movement — first down:

“Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself, and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.”[6]

That’s downward movement. The first trajectory of the divine movement comes down to earth. And it is on the ground that the first disciples witness and experience the human Jesus for the first time in history, in first century Palestine. 

As time moves forward, the ball then goes up, up in the air, off the ground and into the realm of abstract analogies, mental constructs, images, metaphors. The ball is flying in the air, to the degree that it is now our minds that must re-present Jesus who is no longer in the flesh, on the earth, a human being. 

But do these analogies leave us ‘up in the air’? Does Jesus remain merely an abstract notion? When Jesus says, “I am the gate” he’s also the “true vine”, the “light of the world”, the “good shepherd”[7], the “resurrection and the life”[8], the “way, truth and the life”[9] and, “the bread of life” as well. It’s not the image or metaphor that is the most important; it is the person of Christ it points to.

The gate image, because it is a thing, reminds us that Jesus must become real to us again today, in the flesh, in our experience. The ball will land, must land, on the ground again.

In other words, we are free to ‘see’ Christ in others and in the world today. We have to understand our context, too, for the message of Christ to have life. We don’t live in 1st century Palestine. And, to be fair, we no longer live in an agrarian-based society, as it was in the ancient world when the bible was first written down. 

In the middle of the 19th century, 84 percent of Canadians lived in what we would define as rural areas. But today, almost two centuries later, it is flipped: Some 82 percent of all Canadians live in cities. For the vast majority of Canadians today, agrarian images no longer carry the same weight, as far as meaning goes.

So, what would a contemporary gate look like today? Not a gate in the country, let’s say, but a gate in the city. A city gate?

When we consider gates in our backyards – the chain link fences dividing up suburbia – but also the gates keeping a city safe – checkpoints, guard houses, toll stations, prisons, the locks on the Rideau Canal. One thing about these city gates are that they are not constructed to be easily crossed, whether we are talking about regulating water flow, children playing in the yard, border crossings or prisoners in jails. It’s not a walk in the park.

Also, it takes time going through gates today. In fact, these city gates require significant effort. Procedures. Passcodes. Keys. Questions. And hopefully the right answers. Going through some gates can pose a threat, even present a degree of danger. 

The term ‘gatekeeping’ today is intimidating. It suggests the role of being a bouncer at the door—asking for credentials or proof to those wishing to enter, testing the veracity of the traveller’s claims. I think we live in a world today where gates are built to make it harder to open than to close. To open them takes more effort and time.

Among people of faith, too, I think we are tempted to keep Jesus inside. And so we close the gates of our hearts, and the gates—physical and mental—that keep matters of faith preserved. The result of this strategy, sadly, is to exclude, control and/or force everyone ‘inside’ to conform.

But Easter changed all that. Easter means that Jesus is alive, not dead. Easter means that Jesus has gone into the world, and lives in every corner of it. Easter has opened the gate, so that Christ is released out there.

While modern city gates are normally designed to control or stem traffic flow, the gate of Jesus is easily opened. More often than not, it’s stuck open. It’s harder to close it than it is to open it. Jesus’ gate is more about a free flow of traffic in and out. Whoever enters by me will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture.[10]

The community, the reign, the shepherding of Christ if you will involve relationships defined by the grace, freedom and love of God—the freedom for welcome, acceptance, and even the freedom to leave. This freedom of movement from outside to inside and inside to outside is the open-door policy of God’s reign. 

When the church remains a place where all people are free to come and to go, we remain true to Christ who is this gate, who is this place of transition. It might not always be easy to go through either way, because of the blocks we create, we place on ourselves. But Jesus doesn’t block the way. When we would rather close the gate, Jesus opens it. The One who is the gate is faithful and beckons us through to the fullness, the abundance of life beyond.

[1] John 10:1-10

[2] John 6:35-48

[3] John 8:12; 9:5

[4] John 15:1-5

[5] John 10:10

[6] Philippians 2:5-8

[7] John 10:11-14

[8] John 11:25

[9] John 14:6

[10] John 10:9

“Open door policy” (sermon by Rev. Martin Malina)

From broken to broken – God’s grace at the holy meal

Yes, indeed this chapter is typical of the Lukan narrative style.[1] Because the story is resolved and reaches its climax around a dinner table, around a meal.

One of the stand-out activities of Jesus’ ministry throughout the Gospel of Luke is eating. I’ve mentioned this before, that there is some kind of reference, or at least implied, to “eating” in every one of the twenty-four chapters of Luke. And Jesus is at the centre of it all. 

Some notable examples—Jesus is born in a feeding trough for animals.[2] Jesus is accused early in his ministry of being a glutton and a drunkard.[3] What is worse, he eats with all the wrong people![4]Then, he shares the Passover meal with his disciples the night before he died.[5]

So, it’s instructive that in the resurrection story about the walk to Emmaus[6] that, in the end, it’s not Jesus’ teaching—significant nonetheless—that opens their eyes. It’s not his physical presence—significant nonetheless—that opens their eyes. It’s Jesus’ breaking and sharing bread with his friends.[7] It’s his blessing of food. In this sharing of bread at an ordinary table, we catch a glimpse of “Jesus’ transformative kingdom.”[8]

It’s when Jesus takes what he is going to eat, breaks off a piece, and shares it with everyone else gathered at table. It’s like he’s taking the conventional expectation—that when someone comes to the table, they’ll keep for themselves the food placed before them. Jesus, again, turns upside down everyone’s expectations. There’s this self-giving, from a heart of love, that offers not what is perfect but what is broken. To everyone.

Which is not how I instinctively operate. If I’m going to share something, especially food, I want to make sure I’m offering my guest and those whom I serve the best pieces, the biggest, the best-looking off the grill. In other words, I’m looking to give the very best of what I can give. 

But not Jesus. Jesus does not exercise his mission based on performance and perfection. Jesus’ action invites us, maybe challenges us, first to receive and accept what is less-than-ideal in and around us.

A man dies and goes to heaven. Of course, St Peter meets him at the pearly gates.

St Peter says, “Here’s how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you’ve done, and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points, you get in.”

“Okay,” the man said, “I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, even in my heart.”

“That’s wonderful,” says St Peter, “that’s worth three points!”

“Three points?” he says. “Well, I attended church all my life and supported its ministry with my tithe and service.”

“Terrific!” says St Peter, “that’s certainly worth a point.”

“One point? Golly. How about this: I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for homeless veterans.”

“Fantastic, that’s good for two more points,” he says.

“TWO POINTS!!” the man cries. “At this rate the only way I get into heaven is by the grace of God!”

St Peter says, “Come on in!”

God is gracious and merciful, despite our imperfect efforts to catch God’s attention and despite our belief that we have to earn our way into God’s favour.

From broken to broken. From broken—meaning despised and rejected, what Jesus suffered himself on the cross—to broken; meaning, touching what is broken within us. In the holy meal, Jesus touches what is broken in our lives and in need of healing and in need of being made whole again. Bread broken. The Body of Christ given—broken—for you. And everyone else.

The Holy Communion magnifies the truth of grace, a truth that we don’t ‘see’ in each other normally in our compare-and-compete world. Jesus takes the initiative to find us on the road—on our journeys—and approaches us because we are beloved children of God. Not because we have accomplished something grand. The disciples on the road felt as failures; the past three years were all for nothing, it seemed. But despite their, and our, brokenness and even because of it, Jesus approaches us with love.

Within our historic Christian faith, we affirm that all humanity bears the imprint of the Divine[9], that we are made in the image of God. This is the starting point for drawing forward our sense of dignity. This is the intrinsic value that is ascribed, not earned, based on our essence in reflecting a good and loving God.[10]

When we start with the grace of resting in our dignity—despite what is broken within us— then the truth of our identity flows forward to embrace those around us. We re-spect them, the word ‘respect’ means “to see a second time”[11], to take another look. To see the good.

A colleague who teaches a two-year confirmation class concludes the program by announcing a final exam. Each student must take the three-hour exam after which the pastor takes up the answers with each student.

As you can imagine, the students get quite anxious and nervous leading up to the exam. All kinds of reasons are presented why some can’t participate. The pastor gently but firmly persists and insists. With a twinkle in his eye. This moment will define and determine the student’s standing in the church and with God for the rest of eternity!

At first the students are shocked when after the written test is completed and handed in, the pastor in dramatic fashion rips up the paper without even looking at any of the answers written down, and unceremoniously deposits the shredded pieces into the recycling can.

Grace doesn’t demand perfection as a condition for belonging to God’s reign. Grace doesn’t insist on getting it right before you receive the gift of Jesus’ life in yours. Grace doesn’t put conditions on anyone coming with an outstretched hand to the table.

Our lives begin and end in the love and grace of God. Whatever our good efforts, and however we try to get it right, this will make a difference and open up ‘airspace’ for God’s grace to flood in. But we can’t control the outcome. And sometimes we need Jesus to break in when we can’t break out when we are stuck, likely more often than we think. In the end it is the freedom of God’s agency to show mercy and open the eyes of our heart.

You are welcome to partake of this Holy Meal. And next time you connect at the table in person or by watching online, take a good look—and maybe a second look—at who is there beside you also receiving the gift, the grace, also a beloved child of God. Will you ‘see’ them with renewed vision? As beloved children of God?

[1] Luke 24

[2] Luke 2:7

[3] Luke 7:34

[4] Luke 5:29-31 “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

[5] Luke 22:1-23

[6] Luke 24:13-35

[7] Luke 24:30-31

[8] Eric Barreto, “Commentary on Luke 24:13-35” in (23 April 2017).

[9] Genesis 1:27

[10] Christ Heuertz, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth (Grand Rapids Michigan: Zondervan, 2017), p.17

[11] Richard Rohr, “Everyday Pilgrims” in Daily Meditations (, 10 March 2023)

From broken to broken’ sermon for Easter 3A (Rev. Martin Malina)

Lightning – Life in Christ

Lightning will strike (photo by Martin Malina, Arnprior, June 2020)

I’ve found myself reading more children’s stories over the past few years. In the simple language and images not only do I gain insight into a perspective from children, but I also find deep wisdom in the writing.

There is a genre of children’s literature known as transition stories. Focused on the in-between moments that cause young people stress, topics range from bedtime to moving, from separation anxiety to grieving, and more. [1] These books help children grow and mature into accepting the reality of life we all face, no matter our age.

How do we make those transitions in life—transitions that are significant milestones? From living with someone for decades and then you lose them. From one job to another that is completely different. Moving to another country on the other side of the globe. From good health to illness. We may find ourselves at a station of life where we’ve gotten off one train, and we are waiting for the next one to arrive.

How do we make those transitions? And how do we make them well?

Today’s gospel reading is a transition story too.[2] From the night of that first Easter morning, to a week later. From fear to faith. From the disciples not knowing what to do, to being given a big job to do. 

And, like the first disciples, we cannot make a significant transition by ourselves. We cannot shepherd ourselves through our own transitions. We rely on others—family, friends, pets, a community of faith. Who is in your relational circle? 

How do our relations help us? For one thing, we rely on our shared stories—common interests, aligned perspectives, similar and dis-similar life experiences. And when we share those stories—when we are heard and when we can listen—we discover meaning. We may even unlearn or face our fears. In the sharing of stories, we discover meaning in life’s transitions. We may, like the disciples and in the awareness of Christ’s living presence with us, greet a renewed purpose for life.

Books and films whose main characters are children or young people impress me when, at the onset we meet a young child, innocent, immature. But by the end of the epic adventure or quest they undertake, facing seemingly impossible odds and dangers, they have become strikingly mature and adult. It causes me to pause and reflect on how much they have changed to come into their own.

Last week I preached about the power unleashed at the death of Jesus. And, at his resurrection, the great power of love overcame the world’s powers of violence, fear, and hatred. This resurrection power was not just for Jesus, but for all people in Christ for all time. Recall that when Jesus died and rose, “the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. After [Jesus’] resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many.”[3]

The power of the resurrection was also then given to the disciples in the upper room on that first day: “When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’”[4] This is incredible. It is a great gift to receive the power of the Holy Spirit and to have the capacity to exercise it.

What strikes me is that the power of resurrection resides in the disciples with purpose to make a positive difference in the world. The responsibility now lies in them to affect the world for good.

Easter is not just about the individual miracle in Jesus’ life. It is a miracle for all of us.

Jesus’ life is a grace and a gift to us now. The purpose of Jesus’ life is not so much to arouse empathy but to create empowerment.[5] In other words, Jesus is not particularly interested in increasing either your guilt or your devotion, but rather, in deepening your personal capacity to grow, to transition, to make the passage into a fuller, wholesome life.

That power resides in us.

We find ourselves in what is sometimes called the shoulder season of Spring—the in between winter and summer. It is a transitional time, weather-wise. In one short week we went from going through the worst ice-storm in Ottawa since 1997 to 20-degree, summer-like temperatures. During that ice-storm I even heard thunder and saw flashes of lightning.

Lightning occurs, of course, primarily because of conditions from above—the charged air-mass and weather system moving over the land and coming from somewhere else. Most lightning strikes are from cloud-to-ground. The power of God occurs from the start because the Spirit moves into our space.

But does lightning always strike only from the sky down? 

While most lightning is initiated by downward leaders, upward discharges are also possible, occurring almost always from towers, tall buildings, or mountain tops.[6]

When I consider the power of the resurrection unleashed by the empty tomb, when I consider the gifting of that power to forgive, to love, given to the disciples, I think of lightning as a good metaphor.

Because the power of God is a two-way street. It cannot be complete without being connected to God’s power. It cannot be complete without our participation in the powerful activity of God in the world.

We are given the Holy Spirit to make a difference. Having life in Christ’s name means we have the power. The Spirit has been given to us in Christ Jesus. We are connected to Christ. Thanks be to God, who by the power of Jesus’ resurrection, empowers us to be Christ’s presence in this world we inhabit today.

[1] Sundays and Seasons, Daily Resources 16 April 2023

[2] John 20:19-31

[3] Matthew 27:52-53

[4] John 20:22-23

[5] Cynthia Bourgeault, “A Transforming Passion” Daily Meditations (, 5 April 2023)

[6] Upward discharged lightning

A sermon for the 2nd Sunday of Easter, Year A (Rev. Martin Malina)

Simple enjoyment: An Easter Sunday sermon

New Life Springing Up All Around (photo by Martin Malina, Kootenay River BC, July 2019)

Happy Easter!

Now, did you know that Easter is not just today — one day? Easter lasts fifty days, from Easter Day through to the Day of Pentecost, which this year is on May 28.

And, for that matter, every Sunday in the year — even during Lent — is considered a ‘little’ Easter, a mini feast of the resurrection on what Christians have called the first day of the week.

The primary theme of Easter is resurrection. Jesus Christ is alive, raised from the dead. We, too, share with Jesus life everlasting in our baptism. Therefore, new life is always around us and in us, of course. But we don’t always notice it.

Admittedly, with all that’s wrong in us and in the world today, it’s not easy to focus our attention on the new life springing all around us. That’s why we need to hear the Easter proclamation over and over again: Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Maybe it’s too simple a thing. Our minds want to complicate the message of Jesus’ resurrection with debates, controversies, stipulations—and we end up thinking we need to do a whole bunch of mental gymnastics. In order to believe we think we need to have every question about life after death figured out, solved.

And yet for over two thousand years Christians have believed in the presence of the living Lord Jesus, and expressed their faith in resurrection and new life, despite the evils and troubles in the world.

During the Holocaust in the last century over six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis. In a part of the city of Warsaw in Poland, called the Warsaw Ghetto, an inscription was discovered years later carved into a wall in the home of a Jewish family. It was a prayer, a statement of belief and an expression of faith: 

“I believe in the sun even when it doesn’t shine; I believe in love even when I don’t feel it; I believe in God even when God is silent.”[1]

I wonder if, today, we need to renew our faith in the truth and wonder of the resurrection. I wonder if we need to narrow our focus and try not to complicate the simple practice of belief and faith, despite the temptation to do so.

A couple of decades ago a scientist, David Quammen, published a book probing the far-reaching effects of extinction. This is, admittedly, a broad and expansive topic with many implications: the climate crisis, evolution, species diversity, etc.

In order to understand ‘extinction’, David Quammen studied not every species that ever became extinct throughout history, no. He studied a single species, the dodo bird, the last of which died on an island in the Indian Ocean in 1681.[2]

Any pursuit of the mind or soul, whether in science or in the life of faith, begins on as small a scale as possible. “The way to the many is through the one. Loving all things starts with loving one thing.”[3]

How do we practise focusing our attention and simplifying things, in the first place?

In the midst of all that is, good and bad, let’s take a deep breath and take a good, long look and listen around us. Have you been outside this weekend? What’s one thing you notice in nature and in the change of the seasons?

We know nature can’t be speeded up. We may want it to! —especially given the sluggish arrival of Spring this year. And still we are reminded again of the natural pacing of things. The crocuses, the tulips, the buds on the trees and blades of grass will soon emerge with fresh, new greening. This is both the reality of nature, and the nature of reality. 

But we are often at odds with the natural pace of life. Nature and reality happen often at a much slower rhythm of life than we’ve come to know for our own lives. Consider the nine months of pregnancy, periods of incubation, weather systems, growth, ripening — these are all teachers for us.

Thomas Aquinas, the great Doctor of Theology from the thirteenth century, defined prayer as the “simple enjoyment of the truth.”[4] The truth is, like nature, what is real. We don’t live in a fantasy world—the world of ‘what if’s’ and the world of ‘could-of, would-of, should-of.’

Easter is real. And the truth of new life and resurrection is to be celebrated and enjoyed: The simple enjoyment of the truth.

We can’t enjoy this reality when we are speeding. Because of the instant culture in which we live—instant results and same-day delivery—we’ve rather lost this art of simply enjoying the truth.

I now drive an electric car (EV). Driving an EV has opened my awareness to the simple enjoyment of the truth. The greatest enemy to the range of a battery-powered car is increased speed over time. As a friend who also now drives an EV told me recently: “the speed limit is your friend.”

I’ve experienced a conversion of sorts. I used to not think of driving over 120 kms/hour on the expressways. Now, I average well under 110. Why? To extend my range. Not an easy lifestyle adjustment. Yet, slowing down—ironically—has made me realize how much time I actually have.

Of course, we’ve always known that our energy consumption increases the faster we drive—no matter whether your car is powered by fossil fuel or electrons. The faster you go, the more fuel you burn. It’s always been true. The speed limit has always been my friend. I’ve just noticed it now with the EV probably because I don’t have the same level of ‘convenience’ filling up anywhere. I’ve had to confront some limitations to engaging our culture of hyper, hurried, hustle.

With a positive result for me. When I slow down, I pay attention to what has always been true, right there before my very eyes.

When we slow down, when we narrow our focus, we expand the field of vision before us. We notice in another person, for example, things we may have missed when we’ve hurried past them in the hallway. We reconsider and see again their true needs. We listen better. We don’t just rush to conclusions but recognize what they really need and who they really are.

Who is your neighbour? Where is new life beckoning around you now?

New life in Christ is here! It has already happened. And continues to happen all around us, all the time! 

Easter doesn’t magically remove evil and all the troubles in the world today. Easter is not waving a magic wand and making our suffering disappear. The living Lord is not some cosmic superhero that solves all our questions with a snap of a finger.

The simple enjoyment of the truth is the presence of heart, mind and soul seeing God in the real, the natural: the breath, the heartbeat, the love and the good that is always around us. Let us rejoice today in this most blessed gift!

Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!

[1] My translation, from “Karfreitag 7 April” in Der Neukirchener Kalendar 2023 (Neukirchener-Verlagsgesellschaft, 2023)

[2] Cited in Belden C. Lane, The Great Conversation: Nature and the Care of the Soul (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019), p.40-41.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Cited in Laurence Freeman, “Conditions for Breakthrough” in The Art of Waiting (Singapore: MedioMedia, WCCM, 2022).

The power of love: A Good Friday sermon

The Tree of Light (photo by Martin Malina in Gillies’ Grove Arnprior, 15 March 2023)

In Matthew’s account of the Passion, there was an earthquake not only on Easter Sunday when the rock blocking the tomb was opened.[1] But there was a spectacular earthquake at the moment of Jesus’ death two days earlier. The emphasis on rocks and hills is consistent with Matthew’s storytelling.

During the past season of Lent we have visited the mountains which were significant places of Jesus’ life and ministry—the five mountains of temptation, beatitudes, feeding, transfiguration and the Mount of Olives. Indeed, Matthew is the Gospel of mountains. But today, we can go no farther. 

Today, on Good Friday, Jesus makes his solitary journey of death. It’s his alone to make. He is deserted and abandoned, left alone to make the final crossing from life to death by himself. He is the Son of God who has followed his call to the end. This is the final step on his earthly path.

And we watch from a distance, from the foot of this final mountain: It’s the hill outside the city gates, called Golgotha.

The mountains have something to say in Matthew’s narrative. And today, we witness the incredible power unleashed at Jesus’ death. The death of Jesus is a force that cracks open the foundations of the earth. Literally.

The earth shook, and the rocks were split.[2]

We would think the rocks that cement the very structure of mountain ranges are impregnable, unbreakable. How can the physical make-up of igneous rock be split open? What power is this?

In the world of The Lord of the Rings by J.R. Tolkien, the Dwarves are the masters and hewers of stone. They live in the bowels of the mountains mining for precious, valuable metals. 

In a scene from the recent season-one prequel of the Rings of Power TV series, a young Elrond the Elf enters the Dwarven kingdom, later known as the Mines of Moria. But instead of getting a warm greeting from his old friend the Dwarf Prince Durin, Elrond receives a cold welcome from him. In order to remain in the Dwarves’ company, Elrond invokes an ancient rite, a competition to see who can smash more rocks with a giant hammer. Exhausted at the end of the dual, Elrond concedes when he fails at breaking his last rock into smaller pieces.

This is fantasy, of course. In the real world, average human beings don’t go around splitting apart large boulders of rock. Rocks cannot be split by the force of our hand alone. 

The mountains and rocks—symbols of majesty and glory on earth—bind all creation and all creatures together. We all share the same earth, despite all that divides us. The mountains and rocks which hold all together, have something to say to us this day. Because the earth itself grieved when Jesus died. The earth broke its heart open. What are we to make of this?

Perhaps we can consider all that contributes to death in our world, all that serves only to divide, separate and isolate us from each other: Violence, fear, anger, hatred. These are the rocks that seemingly cannot be broken, destroyed. Violence, fear, anger, hatred form part of our human condition that appears on the surface as insurmountable, impossible to overcome. These are the rocks that form the foundation of human character, human nature and society. It seems.

The effect of Jesus’ death exposes the rocks for what they are. The power of everything that separates us from God and from one another is destroyed. Jesus’ death destroys the power of death. Violence, fear, anger, hatred—the recipe for human division—are rendered impotent in the face of God’s love and mercy. The power unleashed by Jesus’ death is greater than anything imaginable or created by our own hand.

No longer are we separated from God. The death of Jesus inaugurates an age where fear and death will be no more.[3] This is God’s justice at work, here. We are united, brought into everlasting union with God through Christ.

It is ironic that the chair Pilate sits on is called the judgement seat. From the judgement seat, Pilate renders the final verdict upon Jesus.[4] It is ironic because in the end it is Jesus and his Father who renders not judgement but justice, not retribution but reconciliation. This is God’s justice at work.

What is righteous, what is good, what is just, what is loving—this is the power unleashed at Golgotha. Jesus died, not to change God’s mind about us; Jesus died to change our mind about God. God is all about reconciling creation—including us—to one another in a holy union. How we view God now must change because of Jesus’ death.

God is not a judge who brings punitive judgement, punishing us for what we did. We may be punished, yes, but not for our sins. We are punished by our sins. The consequences of our sins continue to bring us suffering for which we alone are responsible. Jesus’ death exposes those rocks in our lives that keep us shackled, imprisoned, stuck, and bound.

But Jesus’ death also splits open those very rocks so that we can now turn every new day to a God who loves us beyond any measure of our own undoing.

Thanks be to God. Thank you, Jesus, for what you did for us.

[1] Matthew 28:2

[2] Matthew 27:51

[3] Revelation 21:4; see also Romans 8:35-39

[4] Matthew 27:19

“The Power of Love” by Rev. Martin Malina