2 Corinthians 5: Paul and Rumi on the New Creation

March 8th, 2010

By Roger Foster, graduate student in EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding and Eastern Mennonite Seminary

Read: 2 Corinthians 5:16-20

Persian poet Jalal ad-Dīn Muhammad Rumi (1207-1273) says this:

There is a worm
addicted to eating grape leaves.

Suddenly, he wakes up,
call it grace, whatever, something
wakes him, and he is no longer a worm.

He is the entire vineyard,
and the orchard, too, the fruit, the trunks,
a growing wisdom and joy
that does not need to devour.

All this “un-worming,” this radically new creation, is God’s doing, Paul proclaims. “…for God has reconciled us…” That is, God has adopted us and welcomed us all back into God’s covenant relationship with humanity – NOT, N.T. Wright reminds us, solely for our own personal salvation, wonderful as that is. No, membership in the covenant family bestows a mission as well as a blessing: (cf. “Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision.”) Merciful God transforms even the self-indulgent worm into an agent of that reconciliation which is God’s great enterprise of abounding grace for the healing of the nations.

And in case you haven’t guessed it already, that transformed and adopted worm on a mission wears an ID tag with a new name – but still my name, still your name – on it, as God delights to re-name us: “Chosen.”

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.