Rebecca Beal
St. Luke’s, Scranton

But all who take refuge in you will be glad;
they will sing out their joy for ever.
You will shelter them,
so that those who love your Name may exult in you.
For you, O Lord, will bless the righteous;
you will defend them with your favor as with a shield.
Psalm 5: 13-15

Before St. Luke’s Church, Scranton, sent representatives to our Regional Pilgrimage Gathering, we discussed what we valued about our life together in Christ, and what we do as a congregation that our community could not do without. I confess that I went into the meeting wondering if this would be a “day of judgment,” where we focused on what we are not doing. Instead, the opposite happened: we learned how much St. Luke’s means to us, and in that context we better discerned our hopes and aspirations. One of us stated, “I don’t feel judged here.” Others felt that when we come to St. Luke’s, we are able to breathe and put aside the worries of the week. For many of us, St. Luke’s offers the kind of refuge and shelter described in our reading for today.

Our lives “in this world” are difficult; we face judgment not just as a “Last Judgment,” but in our daily lives. Co-workers, fellow-citizens, even families judge our shortcomings, and we probably feel our incapacities more than those around us do. But these judgments lead us to find our refuge—and our joy—in God, and in one another: “all who take refuge in you will be glad,” says the Psalmist. “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them,” says the Apostle. So although we may sometimes feel that we are called to pilgrimage as a judgment because we are insufficient in one way or another, it is precisely at these moments that we experience God’s love, together.

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love
has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment,
because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out
fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.

I John 4:16-18 



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