I was once accused of robbing the Walmart on Glenwood Avenue. That day I was casually walking toward the store from my car when suddenly people flooded out of Walmart’s main entrance. They were all pointing and shouting,
“They are over there! There they go!!”
I looked where this crowd pointed and saw two men on foot, holding a large package, running toward the Glenwood Avenue Chick-Fil-A.
Here’s where I come in
A Raleigh Police Cruiser came next to the two men (the actual robbers), and they, instead of sticking up their hands, point the officers to me!! Then the police came speeding across the parking lot…after me!!
“Officer,” I shouted, “turn around! Those two men are the ones who robbed Walmart!” And they high tailed it after the real robbers.
I admit to being dumbfounded by those robbers. Who in their right mind would steal a large package in broad daylight, in a large parking lot, flee on foot and expect to get away? Apparently, running away was not their intended plan. They had a getaway car. Only problem, when most needed, the car failed to start!
A True Lenten Experience
This parking lot fiasco has touch points to Lent. A true Lenten experience won’t let us say, “The real problem is over there, running away.”
What can sting with these 40 days is the freight of complicity. What holds us is the firm recognition that every getaway car gets us nowhere. We participate.
The opening salvo from our mouths as Lent begins:
“We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others as we have been forgiven.”
That’s Lent. Recognizing again our carrying off a package, and the burden it brings, what it exposes.
The older I become, the more I want of Lent
To welcome Lent is not to wallow in self-hatred. To live a good Lent is not to be dour and despairing. To embrace this season with passion is not about full time remorse. Rather it’s more about staying alive, about receiving and recognizing grace, about openness to the ongoing promise of Christ amidst the tragic realities of life.
Lord, have mercy,
Pastor David Sloop, Grace Interim Pastor
P.S. This year Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on Valentine’s Day
In a day and time in the world when many heads of state, religious leaders, and politicians are finding fault with one another and espousing theirs as the only way to save the world, we are observing the Season of Lent in which God reminds us of his love and concern for us in spite of all our faults.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him my not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world not to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17.
Christians fully understand that Christ has called us to love God above all else, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. But, we might ask, like the young man who wanted to follow Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Put quite simply, our neighbor is every child, woman, and man on this earth. And, there are a lot of those neighbors who make it very, very hard to love them. We certainly do not appreciate or condone any actions by others which endanger, belittle, or harm another human being. But, being both flawed human beings and disciples of Christ, we must strive to live as Christ lived and love as Christ loved.
That means that we have to know what is right and what is wrong and to be willing to take a stand against un-Christian-like conduct, and stand with those who seek truth, justice, and peace for all human beings. We may not be able to take all of the evil out of the world until the second coming of Christ, but we can certainly represent God’s goodness, grace, and mercy in our own lives.
As we continue on our Lenten journey, following in the footsteps of Christ to the cross, let us remember and live by the words of the song we learned as children in Sunday School: “Red and yellow, black and white, (we) are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
Thank God, Jesus was willing to go the distance all the way to the cross for our sake and our salvation. How far are we willing to go to thank and praise, serve and obey him?
Yours in Christ,
Ash Wednesday is on February 10th this year. Many people observe the season of Lent by making a personal sacrifice such as giving up a favorite food or habit. Others may refrain from an activity they enjoy, etc. Much of the time they give up something that probably isn’t that good for their health anyway.
Your Lenten Sacrifice
I should hope that during this Lenten Season we might consider ways of observing a fast or giving our time and energy sacrificially that will be of service or bring comfort to others. And, I should also hope that we will make time for mid-week and Sunday worship, and family devotions> We can take time out of our busy schedules to reflect upon our relationship with God. Remember that God speaks to us in quiet moments, as well as through the relationships that we cultivate with friends, family, and even those accidental meetings with strangers.
What would Jesus Do?
As we take this Lenten Walk with Jesus in the forty days before Easter, let us remember that Jesus grew up in the same way, endured many of the same hardships we face, and overcame the same temptations that confront us so that he could take them upon himself for our sake on the cross. He did this for us, so that we might understand the importance of our being available for others who need to experience the Savior’s love, forgiveness, and salvation.
Throughout these forty days of Lent, Let us open our eyes, and ears, and hearts to those around us so that the love and presence of Jesus will shine through.
Yours in Christ,