The Pastor's Peace - March, 2012
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For my recent vacation, I worked on a home improvement project we have wanted to do for quite some time. Each day I got up early and worked 8-12 hours trying to get the project done by the end of the week. Besides all of the labor, there was the massive mess involved, and disruption to our lives. As I write this, I am happy to report that I just finished the project and our house is returning to normal. One day when I was working on this, I thought about all the projects I have done on this house. I thought about how one day I won’t live here anymore and someone else will get to have all these great improvements without having had to work on them. Is this fair? Of course people pay for the house they get, but there is a difference between money and labor. I can be given money for my labor, but can never be given back that labor.

As soon as this thought of “fairness” popped in my mind, I looked around the house and thought how silly the idea was. Sure, I have done a great deal of work, but I didn’t lay the foundation, didn’t put up the brick walls, didn’t layout the joists, and did not do so many of the things that make this a house we love. What an important lesson for me, and one I think relates well to Lent. During Lent we think about how we can put aside those things that separate us from God. Some see this as repenting for sin; others see it as working to be closer
to God. One way we separate ourselves from the divine is to fail to acknowledge God’s role in our lives; we ignore what God has done for us. When we do this and only think about what we have done, and make the mistake of thinking we owe nothing to God or anyone else, then this sets us on a path towards self-centeredness rather than Godcenteredness.

The vast majority of what we have is due to what God has done for us, and what the people who God puts in our lives have done for us. We did not earn or provide our salvation, and yet God has given it to us. We did not lay the foundation of the universe, nor put together the building blocks of our planet, and yet God has given it to us. Our very lives were not constructed by us, but rather by the hands of God.

No money or labor can pay for these gifts, and God does not ask for payment, but we should acknowledge them and live our lives in recognition and appreciation of them. This Lent I will work to think about all God has done for me and be thankful. I will also be thankful to a group of German immigrants who left their homes and all they knew to come to Dayton and lay the foundation and solid brick walls to my house that still stand some 160 years later. Ich bin Ihnen sehr dankba.

Peace and Blessings,
Pastor Brian