“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
In the calling of Jeremiah by God to be His prophet we are given powerful information not only about the relationship of God to Jeremiah, but also about God’s relationship to us all. God knows us even before we are born, before we are even in the womb…God’s plan includes us.
St. Paul speaks of it in Ephesians 1:4-6, ” According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved…”
The act of creation was an act of love. God intended for us to be His children, from the very beginning. To accept that God knew us before the world was created, and that we have been a part of the unfolding of His plan to bring creation into His closer presence forever, is humbling. We need to take the time to realize and absorb that all God has done, has been doing, will do, has been done with each of us in His mind.
When God created all and said, “it is good,” he meant us too, me and you, and because God created us, there is value in us — worth. As God’s children we each reflect His image to the world. How does that impact me as an individual? The knowledge that God’s Holy Spirit dwells within me, that I reflect His image, is something I can love about myself, even when it seems I can love nothing else about me.
To see the reflection of God’s image that is imbued to me, I have only to look at my neighbor who shares that same image. I can love that aspect of their being, just as I love that same part of me, even if I can find nothing else that is good in my sight about them. Perhaps one of the greatest hopes that springs forth in me, is that as my love may grow for the “me” God has created, it can also grow in me for the image of God that dwells and grows in my neighbor, whoever they may be, wherever they dwell, whatever they do or believe.
I can love my neighbor as myself. God has created us, we are worthy of one another’s love. And because God loves us, He came into the world from the heavenly regions to assure us of that — through Jesus Christ our Lord. Even in our sinfulness, fallenness, our brokenness, our willful attempts to be unworthy, still God loves us. Jesus told us, showed us, and shall return to bring us home, but for now we should feel affirmed that we are embraced by the Holy Spirit of our Loving God, and we fit into His plan. In fact, we each have a unique place in its unfolding.
The Rev. Walter Van Zandt Windsor is rector at Trinity Episcopal Church.
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