Reflection by The Rev. Jan Kwiatkowski
The moment when I plant my feet, hold my arms open wide, and ready myself to catch and lift a grandchild gleefully running toward me yelling, “Nana!” is a moment I’ve experienced many times and a moment I live for. That moment can happen when I have not seen a grandchild for months due to distance. That moment can happen when one of my grandchildren is hurting for some reason, and only Nana can fix it. Open arms and a child running, just as they are, toward love is, I think, a glimpse of what it might be like when we let go and run toward Love, the love of the One who created us.
I love little kids. They are just out there with whatever it is they are feeling or experiencing inthe moment. They seek out those who will love them no matter what. It doesn’t matter if they are full of joy because they just learned to put on their socks. It doesn’t matter if they just smacked a sibling and know they did something wrong. Ultimately, that child will return to their home base of love and seek assurance that they are worthy of love … no matter what.
As we grow into adulthood, life happens, and we seem to lose or close down our innate ability to seek out the reminders that we are fully loved children of God. We think we have to fix all the things that are wrong with us before God, or others,can love us. Maybe we can’t forgive ourselves for being human and making mistakes. And if we can’t forgive and love ourselves, we ask, how could God possibly do so?
That we are much-loved children of God is one of the lessons for us at the cross on Good Friday. Many children of God were at the cross on that Friday. There was the One who was faultless. There were those who were devoted disciples and followers. There were those who could have cared less. There were those who pounded the nails through the flesh and bone of Jesus. There were the arms of God, held wide open to anyone and everyone there. And God’s wide-open arms continue to be open to all of us, right here, right now.
What if dying to self—rather than anything we could actually do—really has more to do with letting go of what our pride, ego, or training tell us we must do to be worthy of God’s love? What if rising to new life is risking running into the arms of God, just as we are, every single day? While certainly there is the final transition from death to resurrection when each of us does die, there are also countless opportunities every single day to die to self, to forgive ourselves for being somehow “less,” and to turn toward the loving arms of God.
Much like our human feet are planted and arms are held wide open for the children we love, I think God’s feet are always planted, God’s arms are always open wide, and God is always ready to catch and lift every human being seeking the Love only God can give. Trusting this, are we ready and willing to run toward God’s loving embrace?
Making It Personal:What is the one thing God might say to you while you are being held closely in God’s arms? How would the people around you know that God held you and told you that you are a much-loved child of God, no matter what?
Follow along with us this Lent season with our daily devotional and engage in discussion in our closed facebook group moderated by The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner & The Rev. Jan Kwiatowski.
In this group, participants will have a chance to share their responses to the prompts in the daily readings, and also the chance to receive additional material for reflection.