Pastors Letter: March
Lent: Get a Little Outlandish
No matter our denomination Lent has always been a solemn season in the Church calendar. Even those of us not raised with “the Church Calendar” know that Lent is not meant to be fun, but a time when we focus on the suffering and sacrifice of God’s son our savior Jesus Christ. It is a penitential time, a repentant time, when devout Christians have typically “given up” some earthly pleasures — meats, sweets, parties, television, movies — to focus instead on spiritual growth. For some denominations there is an emphasis on Special Bible studies, prayer groups and a great emphasis on meditation.
During Lent, we ought to be looking at the various ways in which we get involved in manufacturing the gods that suit us. Those gods that control various parts of our lives that becomes an idolatry that constantly keeps us prisoner. Like Jesus clearing the temple so we clean out those parts of our lives that control us. We too throw out those people and ideas that have developed a type of religion that desecrates our existence. As we make these changes we stand with our Lord and fellow Christians in a great silence and a great space.
Now read I Corinthians 1:18-25. I’m going to suggest that Christianity offers us a topsy-turvy world, a ditzy divine scenario. I’m suggesting that the Lenten season is the time when we should be preparing ourselves not to totally go all centered and solemn, but to go flat out “crazy” with renewed energy.
Paul declares in this passage that we are not to necessarily be super spiritual but daring to be super strange. Lent is the season in the church when we actively “celebrate’ Jesus’ doomed entry into Jerusalem and anticipate his criminal conviction and his cruel crucifixion on the cross. Our faith is a stumbling block to many in the world. We believe our God makes foolish the wisdom of the world. God choses the weak things of world to shame the strong. Talk about weird holidays.
Now I’m still going to ‘give up” something and make sure “I have no other God’s before me.” But I am also going to celebrate how God continues to up end our world in so many wonderful ways. Great is our God and greatly to be praised. Join me.
Altar A. Ego
Examine Your Reference Point
In the mess I call my office I have containers which contain articles saved over 50 Years. When I need a shot of creativity, I spend hours looking through articles until something strikes a chord in me.
One such article was about the state highway department in Pennsylvania which set out to build a bridge working from both sides. When the' workers reached the middle of the waterway, they found they were thirteen feet to one side of each other. The author of the article explained that each crew of workmen had used its own reference point. No wonder they did not connect.
In that same article the author talked about a small disc on the Meades Ranch in north central Kansas where the thirty-ninth parallel from the Atlantic to the Pacific crosses the ninety-eighth meridian running from Canada to the Rio Grande. Prior to 1989 the National Oceanic Survey, a small federal agency whose business was to locate the exact positions of every point in the United States, used the scientifically recognized reference point on the Meades Ranch. All ocean liners and commercial planes come under the survey. The government can build no dams or even launch a missile without this agency to tell it the exact location to the very inch. "Location by approximation," the article goes on to say, "can be costly and dangerous."
Talk about relevance for our day. One of the reasons we have so much chaos in our society today is everyone's using their own reference point. What we need is a universal reference point so that we can say, "Here. Here is how the good life is lived."
For Christians there is such a reference point - and that is Jesus. What would Jesus do? That is the question that continually helps us in our quest for right living. Jesus not only revealed the character of God but he also patterned the ideal life for humanity. And Jesus gave us the most secure reference point: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. Then he added this: “And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ “On these two commandments hang all the law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
Might be a good corrective to lives that are continually challenged by living according to other reference points. Just a thought.
Yours, taking stock of where my reference point is,
Altar A. Ego