God and sinners reconciled

It’s at the heart of what Christmas is all about.

It’s why God reached all the way down from heaven to earth and became one of us. It was the only way to fix the brokenness beneath all our other brokenness.

It’s why Jesus was born.

It’s why he lived, died, and was raised.

Perhaps there’s no better case study of reconciliation than the Risen Jesus’ encounter with Peter in John 21.

All the disciples had failed Jesus, but only Peter had boasted that even if everyone else fell away, he would stand by Jesus to the death.

Wrong. Not even close. Just as Jesus had predicted, Peter denied Jesus three times.

So when the Risen Jesus met Peter and the others by the lake, what would Jesus say?

“How could you, Peter?”

“What were you thinking, Peter?”

“Do you know how much you hurt me, Peter?”

No. None of the above. Three times Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?”

We reduce Christmas to schmaltz. We settle for warm feelings. But you can’t be reconciled to God unless you recognize that you’re a sinner. But the Risen Jesus didn’t point a blood-stained finger from his wounded hand at Peter and shout, “Sinner!” He simply asked, “Do you love me?”

Three times.

Well sinner, do you love him?


What’s your favorite 2020 meme so far?

Here’s a typical one: A picture of a beautiful bride in her wedding dress with the caption, “My plans.” Next is a picture of a zombie apocalypse, with the caption “2020.”

One meme said, “2020 is going to be the synonym for “crazy” for the rest of time.

Remember the good old days when there was just an impeachment going on?

We don’t have the resources to process a year like this, do we?

But maybe we do. What if we learned to lament?

Mark Vroegop is a pastor in Indianapolis. Years ago, he and his wife had a child who was stillborn. Even though as a pastor he’d often walked with people through grief, he and his wife weren’t prepared for this.

Mark had always known that a third of the psalms were laments. But in his grief, he began to read the psalms in a new way. In the psalms of lament, and in the Old Testament Book of Lamentations, he discovered a movement. The psalmist turned to God, complained to God, asked God to act, and trusted God for the answer. Mark realized that in the psalms of lament God had provided a way for believers to move from grief to hope. There was no promise of an easy fix, but there were reminders of God’s faithfulness in the hardest of times.

Mark realized that his church, like so many others, hadn’t taught people how to lament. It had skipped over the psalms of lament in favor of the psalms of triumph. He wrote a very helpful book, Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament.

This week Mark released a new book to help Jesus followers begin to deal with our current crisis. It’s called Weep with Me: How Lament Opens a Door for Racial Reconciliation. The Gospel Coalition has made a free PDF copy of this book available at https://tgc-documents.s3.us-east-1.amazonaws.com/Weep%20With%20Me/Weep_With_Me_EPDF.pdf

So many of us have been searching for something to do to make sense of this crazy year, to reach out to our friends who are hurting, and to make positive changes in the world.

What if God has already given us a path forward?

What if we started by learning to lament?