As many of you know, I recently attended the Saint Paul Area Synod Conference Assembly. Mike Nelson and Mary Lou Hodge also attended. We had the joy and privilege of hearing Hamline University theology professor Deanna Thompson. She shared about the difficulties in her life as she has struggled with cancer and challenged us to think about our faith in terms of both the here-and-now as well as in light of what Christ has done for us. This year as we approach Lent this is exactly what I was feeling called to set before you in our Lenten journey. So it was wonderful to hear this confirmed by someone even outside of House of Prayer.
So… this year in Lent our theme is, “Reflections of the Cross”. It is my hope that we will all take some time to reflect on what is going on in our lives each day and how we make faith a part of daily living. At the same time, I hope we can reflect upon what Christ has done for us through his suffering and death on the cross, and his resurrection three days later.
To that end, I would encourage you to reflect upon this important question: Why did Jesus have to die on the cross? This is a question that each of us as Christians should grapple with some time in our lives. It is a question that I continue to ponder as a Christian. Each week (at Wednesday evening services) we will explore one of the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ and different perspectives about why God came to earth and died a brutal death on a cross. On Ash Wednesday I will set the stage and talk about PRIDE as the spiritual cancer that confronts us and reflect upon how Jesus on the cross has been the cure for my prideful cancer. Each week following I will discuss briefly another of the seven deadly sins: ENVY – looking maliciously at our neighbor; ANGER – the devil’s furnace; SLOTH – not caring or doing; LUST and AVARICE – unbridled desire and selfishness; and GLUTTONY – misplaced hunger. We will then hear from different people from our congregation reflect upon how Christ on the cross has made a difference in their lives.
Lent is a time in the church that is intended to help us remember who God is and who we are. It is a time to remember and reflect upon our failures and the fact that God loves us so very much that God was willing to come to earth in person and to die for us. What this means for us today and how we live our lives in the midst of our failures is at the very heart of what being Christian – what faith – is all about. Consider this your personal invitation to attend if you are able, and if not, to carefully reflect on how these two things (our sins and Christ’s death and resurrection) can make a tangible difference in our lives today. Blessings to each of you this Lenten season! Your Servant in Christ, Pastor Dan