In the beginning there is forgiveness. There is confession, forgiveness and gratitude for forgiveness. God does not redeem a few people from the world. He redeems the world. He does not love simply a few people who inhabit the world. He loves the world. We confess how we have failed in our God-given responsibilities on behalf of the world as we pray, Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Lord, we long for your will to be done on earth as in heaven. We look around the world and we see Aleppo, we see random acts of terror, we see the celebration of violence and bloodshed on our screens, we see the ravaging and exploitation of what you have made. How long, O Lord, how long? There is hope because God redeems the world. He created it, he put humankind in charge of it, he has redeemed it and he has a future for it.
The first part of God’s plan was Israel – ‘a kingdom of priests’ (Ex. 19.6). The whole earth is mine, says Yahweh, and I am calling you to be a kingdom of priests. What was true of Israel is true of the Church: you are ‘a holy priesthood’ (1 Pet. 2.5). The role of the priest is to represent the people before God, to cry out to God on behalf of the world, to bring God to the people, to bring the salvation of God to the world. In the smile of the priest as he offers the bread, the body of Christ, broken for you, in the strength of the wine, the blood of Christ shed for you – in these are our hope. Our hope is not in statements of doctrine but in participation with the Christ. This hope is not for the priest alone but for the world. The difference is that the world might not understand the hope.
That is why we are to Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. To go, because hope is not for us alone. In peace, because we have this hope. To love, because God is love and therefore God’s people is love. To serve, because we are a holy priesthood. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.