At our first session of the November new member class our seminarian, Chris Honig, was giving the group an overview of foundational Lutheran theology – trying to convey what makes Lutherans just a little different from other communities of Christians.
Having done his best to translate Martin Luther’s insights into the nature of law and gospel and justification by grace through faith, the class provided a summary of what they’d heard:
“You’re a rotten sinner and that’s OK, because God’s love isn’t fair – so get lost!”
Not a bad translation of “God loves you because of who God is, not who you are, which frees you from self-absorbed preoccupation and allows you to give yourself away for the life of the world.”
On this coming final Sunday of the church’s year we hear Christ’s words as he hangs on the cross next to a convicted criminal, “truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Knowing ourselves from the inside out, aware of our faults and shortcomings, we couldn’t have picked better last words to close out the year. God sees us, God knows us, God loves us – just as we are.