Much of my time these past few weeks has been spent with families in crisis. Hard conversations – helping them make decisions, and talking about priorities, without sacrificing what matters most. Instrumental to most folks – is faith…and let’s be honest – people want to have control over their life. Then comes the reminder, a call back to reality – that we’re not in charge. It’s about God and God’s time for us. Coming together – being joined to Christ – is the very heart of the Ash Wednesday lessons. They call us to live our lives as a faithful response for all that God has done.
The beautiful passage from Isaiah that we just heard has a powerful invitation that stands in contradiction to all the constant noise that we hear around us. It is a clear reminder again that our Christian faith is counter cultural. Isaiah’s message says it simply “…offer your food to the hungry…satisfy the needs of the afflicted…loose the bonds of injustice…house the homeless…cover the naked.” And in so doing you will be called the “repairer of the breach” – the repairer of the world. Paul says it plainly and clearly – “You’re ambassadors for Christ…for God’s sake, act like it.” Live your life as a witness claiming the hope and the promise of your baptism that was won for you on Easter.
Gathering – coming together in faith – is finally why we are here today. Because at the end of the day it’s not about what we do, but about what Christ has done for us.
One of the wonderful things about being part of a liturgical church – is that we get these seasons throughout the church year – with pointed lessons that remind us what God has done – and what God is doing in our lives. Time and again this year in particular I seem to find myself going back to our yearlong theme, “Together in Hope.” What a good message for us as we begin this Lenten journey – as Isaiah tells us again… “The Lord will guide you continually…satisfy your needs…you shall raise up the foundations of many generations…”
That’s what we do as people of faith…we come together – not just for these forty days – but, for all our days… until we meet God at the end of our journey, in this life.
Midst all the day to day distractions – and the distortions of what the Christian faith is about – it’s no more basic than understanding that the Son of God sacrificially lived his life – and wound up brutally executed – so that now, more than 2,000 years later, our sins would be forgiven.
We are loved that much. God loves us that much.
Christ came down – he lived – and he died – for us. Thank God he did.
And now Lent invites us to come together, for each of us to live our lives…for Christ. As we begin this journey, we wear the sign of the cross…that reminds us that God keeps us close – gives us new life midst our sin and the brokenness of the world. It’s God’s love of Christ and his love for us that strengthens and transforms each of us – and gives us hope for the journey. Amen.