Jesus in our midst
September 12, 2011
by Rev. Edward Groop, Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, French Lake

Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

My wife, Margaret, and I, for the past several days, have been gathering in our “harvest” for the year. Our garden, not the best ever, has produced pole beans, cukes, tomatoes.

The raspberries and plums and apples have made their appearances on our table, as well. We are waiting on the squash and potatoes. Earlier in the year, we ate our share of rhubarb in various ways.

This in-gathering has been some work, but also fun and enjoyable as we eat and continue our harvest and canning.

Jesus, in the above passage, speaks about a gathering – a gathering in His name. When we gather in Jesus’s name, He promises to be present. As we gather on Sunday morning for worship, education, and fellowship, we rely on that promise.

He is also present at other times, in our homes and places of work. It is good for us to remember that, as well.

I worked for some time as a lab assistant in a virology laboratory in Berkeley CA, as I was going to school. My “boss” had been studying the rabies virus for many years and was a world-known expert in the field.

One of my tasks was to feed hundreds of mice and other animals; and decontaminate the droppings and dead mice and other animals. I used an autoclave, a high-pressure, high-temperature chamber.

When the decontamination process was over, I would open the door and the room was filled with an “odor” that I hated because in got into my clothing. The room was also filled with considerable hot steam/air from the autoclave, and I ran an exhaust fan to keep temperatures down.

One day, in a hurry for lunch, I ran the autoclave process, but forgot to put the exhaust fan on in the lab. The day was particularly hot for Berkeley. When I came back from lunch, I discovered all the mice, in various stages of research, were dead from the heat. Not a good thing.

I thought, “What shall I do?” I even thought about “just” running away from the work. But I finally got up enough nerve to tell my boss.

Expecting to be yelled at, in the least, and fired, at the most, I told him. To my astonishment, he looked at me and said, “Don’t let it happen again.” He forgave me.

I learned a lesson about forgiveness in that moment. My boss was a practicing Methodist, and in his presence and mind that day Jesus was present, present with His forgiveness and grace.

We can never underestimate the love of Jesus and how it can come to us.