Elizabeth Barrett Browning was a semi-invalid.  She refused the hand of the poet Robert Browning because she didn’t want to be a burden.  She couldn’t imagine how he would want to spend his life with her, dealing with her chronic lung problems, and her injured spinal chord.  But he did.  He persisted and she finally consented.  They were secretly married….secret because Mr. Barrett, Elizabeth’s father, did not approve of the union.  He wanted his children to stay under his roof, under his protection.  After the marriage, Elizabeth’s father refused to ever speak to her again.  But she wanted reconciliation.  She wrote to her father…year after year after year. 
In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul tells us that his task is to give the message of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. (II Cor. 5:19)
Sin, of course, separates us from God.  It causes alienation.  But as 2 Corinthians 5:21 says:  “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  Jesus took our sin and we got his righteousness, thereby reconciling us to God. 
Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote to her father almost every week for ten years. After ten years of writing, she received a box in the mail.  The contents of the box?  All of her letters…returned…unopened.  He refused reconciliation. 
He didn’t open her letters!  The letters of his own daughter…the woman, the poet…and not just any poet.  After poet laureate, Wordsworth died, Barrett was considered to replace him.  Many would say her poetry was more admired than the poetry of her husband, Robert Browning.  She was one of the most sought after poets in Europe and America.  And it was she who penned the words:  “How do I love thee, let me count the ways…”  Imagine the beauty captured within those letters, trapped in sealed envelopes.  Imagine the forgiveness…the desire for reconciliation.  Yet her father would not open the letters.  Words of love, of beauty of poetry, never to be received.
God wants to be reconciled to people.  Open the letter.  Receive its words of forgiveness.  It’s as if He’s written to us, asking, ‘how do I love thee?’  The answer:  Through Jesus.  “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  That’s reconciliation.
Maybe you need reconciliation with God.  Or, perhaps God might be calling you to be reconciled to another person. 
Dear God,
Thank you that Jesus took my sin and gave me his righteousness.  Thank you that because of his sacrifice, I am reconciled to you.  I’m grateful for a relationship with you, the living God.
I admit that I’ve been alienated from people in my own life.  I think of _______________.  Show me how to proceed in this strained relationship.  Give me your perspective and your strength.      

Patricia Batten