Thursday, May 1, 2014

Easter 3 A - 1 Peter 1:17-23

1 Peter 1:17-23
I remember singing the hymn “I am but a stranger here heaven is my home” at St. John’s Lutheran church in Ancram, New York. I spent the summers of my childhood in upstate New York and if we didn’t make the drive to Hudson to go to the Missouri Synod Lutheran church we’d go to the “other brand” of Lutheran church in Ancram. I’m not sure why I remember St John’s or the hymn to this day as we didn’t sing that hymn at my home church in Chicago. It could have been that St. John’s still had covered stalls for horse and carriage surrounding their gravel parking lot or maybe it was the fans we used to cool ourselves in a country church with no AC – the Lord’s prayer printed on one side and the aforementioned hymn on the other. The members were old – even then – and sang with old people voices (sorry). We were city kids from Chicago and going to a country church at a bend in the road was not our most favorite thing to do – or any church for that matter - since there was swimming and fishing and exploring waiting for us. But maybe the song spoke to me because our father raised us on a steady diet of sad country western songs and the idea that “…earth is a desert drear heaven is my home” sounded like something Tammy Wynette (one of dad’s favorites) would sing. At any rate there is a temptation within the Christian tradition to live as if this life of “exile” (1:17) means the “here and now” is not nearly as important as the “what is to come” and the command to “love one another deeply from the heart” goes no further than the circle of faith, and even that circle is often constricted. But Jesus understood the reign of God as a present reality and while there certainly would be a day when heaven would be our home the followers of Jesus were to work to make this home as heavenly as possible. “When I was hungry you gave me something to eat…” (Matthew 25:34ff)

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