Reconciling love

An unusual Easter 2 homily this morning – because we celebrated a wedding during our regular Sunday service! The Collect for Easter 2 seemed to me to speak to the happy coincidence.

We prayed at the beginning of this morning’s service the Collect that begins:

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation …

The new covenant of Christ is all about reconciliation. The mystery of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection are all designed to provoke reconciliation, and to provide reconciliation, between creation and its Creator; between creatures and one another; between all that is, seen and unseen.

The new covenant of Christ comes with a history, the baggage of preexisting covenants and their complicated reckonings. The new covenant does not undo any love that God has bestowed upon the world since its beginning, nor any of God’s promises or blessings. But it does something new, and for those of us in need of it, it reconciles us to God in new and loving ways.

The new covenant of Christ has room for doubt. The Risen Christ embraces Thomas and his need for reassurance, returning especially for him, breathing Peace especially upon him. The new covenant reconciles Thomas and his doubt to the reality of resurrection, the promise of new life realized right in front of him.

The new covenant of Christ has room for doubt, but not for fear. The disciples were locked away out of fear, but the Risen Christ breached that division, breezing through their locked doors, and reconciled that closed-off room to the world which he has filled with the Holy Spirit.

The new covenant of Christ reconciles our hopes and dreams to what might be: to the kingdom of God. It brings within reach the faithfulness, the hope, the love for which we long; the love that casts out fear, and the faithfulness of God that endures for ever.

The Collect continues:

Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith …

The covenant of marriage, we are told by the church, is an image and an echo of that new covenant of reconciliation established by Christ. It models the bonds of eternity. Whether as participants or witnesses, it invites everyone to share in the good news, to examine our own vows, and the reconciliations on which our life depends. It does not come without apprehension, as of a future not yet seen; but it has power to reconcile our history as the path to our present hope. It comes with its own stumblings, as the way of the cross always does. It vows forgiveness. It makes concrete the hope, faith, and love that we invest in one another. It breathes new life into the most world-weary of souls. It is a mystery, even to those of us who live within it. At its best, as it most clearly reflects that new covenant of Christ, it reconciles us to one another, to God, even to ourselves, through the love for which God created us.

Into this covenant Ann and Ben now come to be married. May their witness to the love and faithfulness of Christ warm our hearts, our may our joy at their union be reckoned to us as a reconciling righteousness. Amen.

About Rosalind C Hughes

Rosalind C Hughes is a priest and author living near the shores of Lake Erie. After growing up in England and Wales, and living briefly in Singapore, she is now settled in Ohio. She serves an Episcopal church just outside Cleveland. Rosalind is the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing , and Whom Shall I Fear? Urgent Questions for Christians in an Age of Violence, both from Upper Room Books. She loves the lake, misses the ocean, and is finally coming to terms with snow.
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