March 2017 – Walking the way to Easter

Lent is just beginning as I write. Last night we received ashes on our brows in the shape of a cross. This morning I’m remembering a worship service from some years ago, when I served a pair of Methodist churches close to the Canadian border in Northeastern New York – our churches, a neighbor Methodist church, two nearby Catholic churches – together for a Sunday afternoon worship service just before Lent. We listened to scripture, prayed, sang together, making ready for Lent; ending on a somber note, singing, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Then as we stood for the benediction, we heard the sound of a solo violin, playing from high on the church balcony – Christ our Lord is Risen Today

Reminding us Lent is a journey that leads to the cross… And just as surely to the resurrection…

Lent begins with repentance from sin. Repentance means literally turning. Turning from sin – turning to God. Sin means anything that hurts our relationship with God or people made in the image of God.

In the opening chapters of the bible we’re told we are dust – and to dust we shall return.  All of us are mortal. Our bodies are made up of earthy material that will return to earth.

The first chapters of the bible also tell us we are all made in the image of God. Called and equipped to live as beloved children of God. And God invites the whole world to be reconciled to God through Christ – and through us, frail creatures of dust – whom God nonetheless calls to be ambassadors for Christ, offering Christ’s reconciliation to the world…

In Lent we are invited to recognize ourselves as both frail human creatures of dust and ashes  – and as beloved children of God, made in the image of God, renewed in God’s image through Jesus Christ.

We are dust and ashes. And we bear the image and likeness of God. And given this double-identity, we’re called to repent not only of obvious wrong-doing – but also to repent of ways in which we don’t live up to our full potential as Christ-followers – people called by Jesus to bring the good news of his reconciling grace and peace to all this world which God so loves…

Together we are the body of Christ, called to embody the life of Christ in the world. Thus we’re called to repent not only of our personal sins, but also the sins of the world we live in, the sins of the wider church of which we’re an integral part. In Lent we recall ways in which our relationship with God and neighbor needs repair. Together we make time for prayer, for study of God’s word, for worship – time for abstaining from all that distracts us from God. Time for listening for God. Time, above all, for remembering and rediscovering the breadth and depth of God’s love – love divine, all loves excelling.

May the love of God in Jesus Christ fill our Lent with the promise of Easter… May God’s grace,  peace, joy, and love bless and keep you always….

Pastor Tim