Sunday – March 15, 2015; The Gates of Heaven Are Always Open!

John 3:16upsala gates

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

Faith in Christ is not an insurance policy which guarantees the Gates of Heaven will be swung wide open for us when we die…

According to today’s Gospel message, our way into paradise has already been paid for, the Gates of Heaven are always open for us…as we live in the light of the resurrection! Through Christ, God’s own Son, we have been given the gift of salvation, the gift of love, and made a part of God’s family forever…something we could never earn on our own, but were just given out God’s great love for us!!

The good news is that we are loved by God just as we love our own children: not because they have earned that love, but because they ARE our children, a part of our hearts, connected with a bond that can be stretched and tested, but never truly broken!

Living in the light this gift of God’s love, we are freed from having to focus on the next world, freed from having to worry about being good enough to earn a room in the mansion, and can instead focus on making our world a better place…a place where God’s love and grace of God are alive and active through the Holy Spirit and through each of us!

Now, making the world a better place can seem like a major challenge…and it is! The world is a big place, and a broken place, with many problems and many people in pain, how can we help them all? Well, we are not called to transform the whole world with our faith all by ourselves, we have the help of other people of faith, and we can focus on making just our own little corner of the world better…our homes!

As single parents it often takes all we have just to keep our homes together, with some semblance of harmony and peace. We face a lot of challenges while raising children, and we make a lot of mistakes, and have sometimes we have to accept those things we cannot change and move on. It is in how we react to these challenges that we can shine the light of grace into our homes…as when we act in faith, and reach out for help, God is with us, and when this happens our homes become God’s house!

This does not mean we need to be perfect parents or perfect Christians…just as our kids do not need to be perfect, for the love we have been given cannot be lost, even if what we do does not always make God happy. We simply are called to do the best we can to share the gift of grace we have been given, by showing our children compassion, forgiveness and love…while seeking to teach them how to live a life of faith, a life that follows the example of Christ in the midst of an often difficult world.

As parents we can light the sparks of faith within our children by striving to make our home a better place, a place where God’s love lives, a place that is moving towards God’s Kingdom. When we make our own corner of the world a better place, the message of the Gospel is spread, lighting up are dark world and bringing us all closer to making the Kingdom of God a reality right here in our world.

And this is what is most important: not our striving for our place in paradise in the “…sweet by and by…” but to transform our world into a paradise, where pain and struggle are no more, where our broken relationships with each other and with God are reconciled, and we are all truly one in the light of God’s grace!

Let Us Pray:

God, thank you for giving us the gift of Jesus, for freeing us from having to be ‘good enough’…even though you did not have to! Now that we no longer have to earn your love, please help us not to focus on heaven but on making our own corner of the world more like your kingdom. Give us the ability to share your love in our own homes, by showing our children and others compassion, love and forgiveness, and therefore shining the light of your grace in our imperfect lives. Let us share this light through our homes and families, remembering that where this light is shared there is hope, reconciliation, and love!

Amen

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