The Pastor's Peace - March, 2017
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In March we will be starting Lent, a time for reflection on our relationship to God and how we can work to improve it. It is also the time during our church calendar when we hear scripture detailing the inevitable path of Jesus to the cross. Keeping that in mind, this year during Lent we will be watching a video series on the cross and crucifixion of Jesus. It is a symbol all of us are familiar with, and yet it is something that so many people have questions about. Why did Jesus need to suffer? Why do we use the symbol of his suffering in our churches? Does God expect us to suffer?

In some circles of the Protestant Church the explanation of the cross has been boiled down into something fairly simple that many people point to. Jesus was punished and died because of our sins, and because of his acceptance of our punishment, we are forgiven of our sins. Although that seems somewhat simple and therefore appealing, it is only one of many views of the cross, and a fairly modern one in comparison to others. What the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches believe differs somewhat from this, and some Protestants as well have a slightly different or more nuanced view. All Christian faiths believe that forgiveness of sin is given through Christ; however, the exact mechanism of forgiveness and what the cross has to do with it vary. For instance, why couldn’t God just forgive? God is capable of anything, right? I have certainly forgiven people for things without requiring their severe punishment; certainly God is greater in such things than I. When you really start to look at the cross, it can bring up many questions, and it is my hope that our class will help look at some of them.

One thing that we don’t talk about as much when it comes to the cross is the humanity it expresses in Christ. We are often so focused on this question of salvation and whether or not salvation is tied to Christ’s suffering, that we miss the general humanity of Christ’s suffering. All of us in being human have our crosses to bear. All of us suffer, and some a great deal more than others. People who are good to others still suffer; it seems to be a fundamental part of being human. We, however, do not suffer alone. Christ suffers with us in all things. Not only is Christ present with us, but Christ knows what it is to suffer. Christ knows what it is to be human. Jesus led a blameless life, and yet he like all humans still knew suffering. In this and in many other ways, Christ is tied to us and we to him. During times of difficulty in my life I try to remember this, and it gives me comfort. As we enter Lent and ponder our relationship to Christ, I hope that relationship can provide comfort to you as well.

Peace and Blessings,

Pastor Brian