pastor's corner - March 1st
It began with ashes last Wednesday. “From dust you came and dust you will return.” A stark reminder of the fragility of life. Author, Rob Bell notes, “For the seven weeks leading up to Resurrection Sunday, we practice sober awareness of our frailty, sins and smallness. It starts on Ash Wednesday when those ashes are traced on our foreheads in the shape of the cross, a tactile reminder of our origins in the dust. From there we come, and to there we will go.”
Thankfully the significance of the ashes doesn’t end there. Ashes (which were often paired with fasting in scripture) were an external sign of internal grief for personal sins against God and humanity (Jonah 3). They were also an outward symbol of lamenting the tragic brokenness of this world (2 Sam 13:19). Ashes remind us that we are in desperate need of a Savior.
This Savior is the reason we fast for forty days. We fast from things our flesh tells us we need to feast on the thing we need the most, Jesus. We follow in the footsteps of the one who was lead by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness for forty days. It was there that our true King had a showdown with the evil one. This enemy offered Jesus the kingdoms of this world. But Jesus’ loyalty to the Kingdom of God was unwavering. A reminder that Lent is a time to let God’s kingdom gain another square inch of our hearts, minds and lives.
Today we talk about the unusual way this kingdom arrived. Our King wasn’t born in the safe and warm confines of palace walls. He was born into the harsh cruel world he came to save. His life was in danger before his first breath. “Get up and take the child…” This command (which appears twice in this text) illustrates both the urgency and quint essentialness of following this warning. So Mary and Joseph take heed and “get up and take” Jesus to Egypt to escape King Herod’s ruthless genocide of boys in Bethlehem. This “unplanned” detour is a bit frustrating in the grand scheme of the narrative. Didn’t God’s people wait long enough for the Messiah? As soon as he arrives he is whisked away from their presence! Their wait for the Savior resumes. Thankfully following Herod’s death, the true king of Israel finally returns when Mary and Joseph “get up and take” Jesus to Nazareth.
Ironically we are still there. We are a people who await the return of the one who came to save us. We fast and wear ashes looking forward to the day when sin, brokenness and death will be no more. We live every day with the very real knowledge that need a Savior to come back. We await the return of the King.
Grace and peace,
Who is My Neighbor?
The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” This was a hot topic for so many people in the 1st century Jewish world. It's no surprise, Jesus answers this culturally and politically charged question with a parable packed with incredible meaning. His short story about a good Samaritan answers the “who, what and how” of neighboring both then and now. It reminds us that loving God and our neighbors is actually something we put into action. Jesus wants us to love with abandon because when we do that we "truly live". Below are some helpful ways to fulfill the two greatest commandments (i.e. loving God and loving our neighbors). Though these practices we hope that you discover that this parable is the gift that keeps giving.
Listen. Before your day begins ask the Spirit to reveal those who you will love like neighbors today.
Converse. When you are at work, school, or the store etc. speak to the Lord about what you see, hear and experience. God is always with us. We often neglect to join our never-ending chat with him.
Include. I believe this story reminds us that the Lord wants to increase our relationship bandwidth. This often involves befriending those who think, live and look different than ourselves.
Slow down. Many people are often in a hurry or too busy to be good Samaritans. Sometimes we have to put down the good things in our life for the great things of God.
Share. When God uses us we ought to share our testimony with others. Not to boast in ourselves but to humbly celebrate the ways the Lord is at work in our lives. "Let me tell you what God did today..."