"All go to one place; all are from dust, and all turn to dust again."-Ecclesiastes 3:20A familiar verse on this Ash Wednesday. A day where we are reminded that our bodies are merely vessels for the lives in which we live here on earth and when the time comes these bodies will return to dust. As this journey of Lent begins I reflect on the last year. I reflect on the commitments I made in my baptism and confirmation, a good reminder as I begin this Lenten season in a new place in life with a new congregation to share with.
Renouncing evil and relying on God's grace-This one is especially on my mind as this time of penitence begins, as we spend the next 46 days (if you count Sunday's) unveiling those things in our life that cloud our minds, that build barriers, that keep us from seeing clearly the face of God. As the focus of the season turns from trying to hide our sins from ourselves, the world, and even God, instead focusing on bringing them to light and shedding them from the lives we live, we are forced to remember that it is by the grace of God that we are free from the bondage of sin. It is by God's grace that we are a new creation in Christ, that we can humbly approach the throne and ask for forgiveness. It is God's grace that allows us to be real with ourselves so that we can truly focus on what the cross means and how God's love and grace poured out for us is something worth reflecting on.
On that day nearly 8 years years ago, when I was baptized and confirmed I also made a commitment to God and fellow being when I promised to actively and responsibly participate in the worship and mission of the church. This takes on a new meaning this week as I remember that promise made years ago, again this summer, and now to a new congregation of folks whom I look forward to being a partner in the mission of the church with. What does this have to do with Lent? As a community of believers it is important for us to remember that this journey to the cross is not one we take alone. We journey together from day to day and week to week. We share this liturgical calendar with brothers and sisters across the world, and it is a reminder of how we are bound together in the love of God through the blood of Christ.
Christ..."Who is your Lord and Savior" my pastor asked some 8 years ago..."Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior" a statement that was so profound for my life then, and now that statement continue to grow, from words to action, from thought to deed, from then as a 12 year old to now when I am 20 years old, the statement has not changed but evolved. Then it was a small knowledge that I was a sinner who needed Christ as my savior, now it is a way of life. Now the statement means I live each moment with the intention to reflect Christ to the world, to be the candle in the darkness, to be the messenger, to be a person breaking down barriers in order to share the gospel. Now this statement reminds me of the fact that Lent is so awesome because we spend so much time reflecting and being in a contemplative state where we think, seek forgiveness, seek renewal, and then we change who we are, we are shaped into a new being. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, is a reminder of the hope that comes during this holy season. A reminder that though the darkness of death is all around us we have a light, we have hope in the fact that Jesus Christ overcame sin, overcame death, overcame suffering, when Christ suffered and died on our behalf, when the stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty, my friends the good news of this Lenten season is that in Jesus Christ we are forgiven. In Jesus Christ we have new life, in Jesus Christ our lives are made new, we are made new!! The good news of Christ is that we are not condemned by the world because the only one who can condemn us is Christ, and Christ came for us! Christ died for us! Christ rose again from the grave FOR US! AND Christ will come again for us...Thanks be to God! Praying that you may have a most holy Lenten season, remembering to reflect, to humble yourself before the throne of grace, to be excited about Christ, to be made new, to be renewed, and to keep in the front of your mind that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior! Peace be with you in this most holy season! KP