The Pastor's Peace - February, 2010
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This month we begin the season of Lent. At 7PM on February 17th we will hold a short Ash Wednesday service at the church, marking the beginning of this new season. Lent is a season of repentance and preparation for Easter. We begin with ashes, because they are a traditional sign of repentance and mourning in the Bible. Such examples can be found in Job 42:3-6, where Job repents in dust and ashes, and in Numbers 19:9, Matthew 11:21, and Luke 10:13, just to name a few.

One question to ask would be, "What are we repenting for?" For some that might be a pretty easy question. For others, who feel they have lived a pretty good life, the answer might be a bit more difficult. However, if we focus on our individual sins and transgressions, then we have really missed the point. You see, no matter how good we seem to be, no matter how righteous others think we are, we are still part of a flawed humanity. We are saved through Christ, yes, but still we have not fully lived into the just Kingdom of God. We fool ourselves if we look only at our individual actions and do not admit that we are all part of humanity, and, as members of such, we often fall short of the love and grace shown to us by Christ.

Let us not forget that the ashes that start Lent are made from the very same palms used to celebrate the triumphant entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. This is not an accidental custom. It illustrates that humanity at one moment honors Jesus and then that very same human family sends him to his death. It is as if the ashes
are a reminder of the hypocrisy that humanity showed its savior. It is our challenge and burden to know that we are responsible for each others' actions. We are all the Body of Christ. The moment the hand blames the foot, or the eye blames the ear for our shortcomings is the moment we cease to recognize our connectedness, cease to understand that we are not saved individually but saved in unity. Christ did not come for one, but for all.

Listen for the Good News. Even though being one body is a challenge, it is also a great strength. If we understand how we are all connected, if we realize that we are supported by all of humanity, then we realize that this is a body that can never be broken. Together we can overcome any obstacle, we can triumph over any evil, and we can transcend death itself; yet each year we fail to do this. There is enough food and farmland to feed the world, yet hunger still exists.

There is enough money in the world to provide basic needs and care for all, and yet it has not happened. There is enough clean water for all, and yet people still thirst. We have ample clothing in this world, and yet people are still naked. We must not forget Matthew 25:41-46; when we allow the least among us to suffer, we allow Christ to suffer as well. This is what I repent for in this season of Lent. I am just as responsible for humanity's failings as anyone else is, and I am sad for it, and humbly ask for forgiveness. Please join me this Ash Wednesday, and let us all hope for and work for a better future. Repent and hear the Good News.

Peace and Blessings,
Pastor Brian