“And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable…their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Rev. 21:5-8, ESV)
Any student of Scripture should know that Jesus liked to spend time at the lake, on the the sea, near the river. Wherever he went, it wasn’t long before people congregated around him–sinners, critics, devoted and beloved disciples all gathered there with Him. On the boat, at the shore, Christ was there to make himself known as the Word made flesh, the Savior of us all. Jesus travelled from town to city, region to region. His ministry is a recreational endeavor, literally.
Christ actually re-creates people, even today, here and now. As St. John puts it, they become “born again” by water and the spirit through His baptismal Word. When the Lord engages in His re-creational activity, He brings healing to the sick, life to the dead, deliverance from the demonic forces oppressing the people He loves. Jesus even re-creates identity, our reputation and standing before God and all the company of heaven. He pronounces us dead to sin and alive before God in Christ’s own everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness.
You stand next to such people every week, those in whom Christ is accomplishing His recreational work. We may shrug indifferent shoulders and roll our eyes thinking “big deal?” or “well it’s about time…” when someone standing next to us confesses their sins. Meanwhile, the very angels rejoice to behold it as one sinner repents. God’s recreational activity is happening all around us all the time in this holy place. God’s recreational activity will always be found by those who seek it right where He tells us to find it: through His Word and Sacrament. I encourage you to embrace and enjoy your own recreation–in Christ!
We share a great love for our Lord’s creation: the beautiful sky and water, mountain trails and valleys, the splendid variety of plants and animals “each according to their kind.” Such beauty and majesty, tranquility and freedom He displays before our eyes in this world. It’s easy to understand how, from times of old, many actually worship God’s creation rather than finding and worshiping God on His own terms. We Christians enjoy and rejoice in these gifts of life, earth, sky, water, plant, animal. They’re God’s good gifts for us, a reflection of the Giver’s generosity, wisdom, creativity and most intricate ordering of all things. We are given a rightful place in that order, restored once more to dwell in it only by the death and resurrection of Jesus.
His creation remains beautiful and glorious, and yet more glorious is God’s re-creational activity through His Word and Sacrament. While you travel, enjoying everything in God’s green earth, I urge and encourage you to seek out and find the Lord and His people along the way. He has appointed the days, the times, the places where He will gather with His people for recreation–a day to enter His rest. Do not let your heart make an idol of the lake, the sand, the fields, or even your family. All these are very good gifts, but the Giver is Christ Jesus, our Lord. That same Jesus binds us together by covenant promise in His blood. There shall we find Him giving refreshing, re-creational gifts in the midst of His “one holy Christian and apostolic church,” the communion of saints.
Take a vacation from all your work; and receive His work of being called, gathered, enlightened and sanctified along with the whole Christian church on earth. Take a vacation from your caretaking duties and receive the Lord’s own dutiful caring for you, His washing of regeneration and renewal. Enjoy some recreation as the Word of the Lord comes from outside of you, living and active, among other skin and bones people redeemed by the body and blood of the Lord. Find your recreation in Christ and the work He does exclusively “where two or three are gathered in My Name.” Take your vacation with God, not from Him. Enjoy your real recreation with Christ and His Bride, the Church. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
–Pastor Jeffery Warner
Traveling out of town for the weekend? Plan ahead! Locate a faithful Lutheran church and visit our extended family in Christ with the following links: