Sunday, September 26, 2021

Bowing at the Altar of Reclamation

And he bowed himself, and said, What is thy servant,
that thou shouldst look upon such a dead dog as I am?
2 Samuel 9:8

And Mephibosheth ate continuously at the King's table was lame on both feet, with all the land's of his father restored.

When I was a kid, the altar sat at the front of Poasttown Church where my grandfather would preach. It was where people went when they had a deep concern, a health scare, wanted the pastor to pray with them, or needed a holy space to meet with God. While I worked as a missionary in Guatemala, I learned about the altars of the Maya and Aztecs, sometimes covered like the alters of the Old Testament, redemption only purchased by blood. But also in the Hebrew scriptures, we find a different type of altar, one that gives a testament of a historical event, an alter of remembrance.

Joshua set twelve stones from the river Jordan after he led a nation across it on dry ground. He wanted all who saw that place to know that God had done again the miracle performed when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea on dry land (Joshua 4:20-24). There are times when the actions of God reach into the problems of our lives and He inexplicably restores us back, regardless of our situation, or mistakes, and things both not our fault, and entirely our fault.

Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathon, Saul's grandson deserved to die as the heir of David's formal rival. But King David adopted him as his own... not because of who Mephibosheth was, but because of the grace and character of the King. This is the same experience that God has given to me. A reclaimed life. And so I write these words, building this altar of reclamation.

Reclamation goes way back with God. All the way back to the origins of creation. This was the way that order came from chaos, heaven itself pulled from the madness of the void. We know so well the beautiful creation ex nilo, the spoken word of God that created the world from nothing. But how often have you heard of the reclamation of the chaotic seething mess that resulted from that initial action? Genesis speaks of it as the earth as a formless void, a worthless desolation, a literal place of misery, destruction, death, sorrow, and wickedness.

And then, from that madness, God created again. He re-created, he reclaimed the world. Genesis uses a new verb here that means to create from previously existent materials. And then, He uttered the words, "Let fall out illumination!", and placed all things into beautiful order. 

Fast forward from that space and time some many, many years later. Again, the world was in chaos. And suddenly the sky was split above the heads of sheep and shepherds... and again God arrives with an explosion of light and sound as tens of thousands of angels shout, "Glory to God in the highest!" giving the ultimate declaration of all time that God again had returned to reclaim what was His!

Our God, the one who created, recreated, and reclaimed. The one who restores us day by day. To Him I stretch out my arms in this place, to Him alone I bow. To Him who alone is worthy. And it is Him that brings order from chaos, life from dead things, and even explodes darkness itself with light from His very mouth. Light and life can grow from darkness and death when He speaks. To Him all glory and power and honor forever and ever. Amen.

And so this is why I bow. This is the same God who again has reclaimed me. I can bow at that old fashioned altar of my grandfather. I can walk away from that blood covered altar of sacrifice. The God of reclamation shed His own blood to set me free. And I can build this altar of remembrance so that all who pass this way will see that He is the same God who parted the Red Sea, split the Jordan, and shouted light into the cosmos of time.

Whatever your situation, I am here to bow beside you and introduce you to the One who is here to meet you. To bring light. To give you life. To again bring order into your chaos. There is a seat at the King's table for you. Come. His arms are stretched wide. Light and life fall from his face for all who bow.

After all, maybe you’re already on your knees?

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