The Priestly Pen
For God so loved the world that he gave his only son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not perish,
but may have eternal life.(John 3:16)
Sisters and brothers all,
God sent Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior for one reason: to give us eternal life. We have names for that incredible gift: Amazing Grace, Wondrous Love, Almighty King, Beautiful Savior, Gracious Spirit, Hope of the World, Christmas Joy, Easter Gladness, Alleluia! and many more. Jesus suffers and sacrifices his life so we can live with God eternally. The hymnist's sentiment is surely our own: "But when I think, that God, his Son not sparing, sent him to die, I scarce can take it in."*
It is Lent, the season of calling to mind Christ's suffering for our sake, the season of rejoicing - yes, we can rejoice in Lent! For 2,000 years, it has been the custom of Christians to reflect on the Mystery of our Redemption by giving up or by sacrificing some part of our lives or habits as we recall our Savior's sacrifice "for us and for our salvation."** Let us consider ways that we might rejoice this Lent!
Suppose that this Lent, each of us chooses something to "sacrifice" gladly that will truly add to our Christian life. Sacrifice a few extra minutes in the sack each morning and use that quiet time to read through one of the gospels during Lent. How about sacrificing an hour or two of free time on a Saturday to help the Reach Thrift Store or The Sharing Center? Give up a few hours of your time to visit sick or homebound persons you know. How about you babysit for free for your Jewish neighbors so they can go to Sabbath or Passover services? The "mitzvah" possibilities are endless!***
In addition to whatever sacrifice you choose to mark your Lenten journey and make your Cross-walk more meaningful, consider sacrificing a little something extra:
+ Addicted to the Times, Journal or other crossword? Sacrifice it for Lent and sent the
$20 or so to Episcopal Relief and Development for their work in Puerto Rico where
still only 75% of the power grid is up (sometimes) and potable water remains the #1
issue (85% have access - sometimes).
+ Can't live without your Starbucks or Daily Grind latté? Sacrifice that during Lent and
send the $90 to Murphy Free Methodist Church for their Tuesday Free Lunch
Program, or to First Baptist Church to help their Monday Free Lunch Program.
+ Drive your car/truck/SUV without planning? Tighten up your schedule, give up a few
unnecessary jaunts, and send $30 to the Friendship House most of whose clients
have no car - or home.
+ Sacrifice eating out just once each week in Lent and give that $50-$250 to our own
Messiah Brotherhood of St. Andrew for their assistance to veterans.
My dear family in Christ, the possibilities are as limitless as God's love! When we let our Lenten "giving UP" become "giving TO," then by grace our small sacrifices make others' lives a little better. Join me in praying each morning and evening during Lent: Merciful Father, we offer with joy and thanksgiving what you have first given us -
our selves, our time, and our possessions - signs of your gracious love. Receive
them for the sake of him who offered himself for us, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
In the Savior's love,
Pastor Maggie Rourk
*How Great Thou Art," stanza 3, #60 Lift Every Voice and Sing II. Text: trans. Stuart K. Hine (1899-1989).
**Phrase from second article of the Nicene Creed, BCP p. 358.
***"mitzvah" - Hebrew for "commandment" or a good deed or act of human kindness done to the glory of God.