Forty Days of Lent – First Sunday of Lent


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Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.  Genesis 2:7

 Today I remember that the breath of life is a gift from God.

My church, the United Church of Christ, posted a devotional today that wrapped up by saying: “Lent is not a self-help season. Lent is about death and resurrection, the mystery of God’s power to raise the dead to life. For that reason Lent is odd. Odd, necessary and true.”  I have had somewhat mixed feelings about this all day, because while I most assuredly agree with the statement, it leaves me in somewhat of a quandary; Lent is about death and resurrection, the mystery of God’s power to raise the dead to life.   That’s pretty hard for my imagination to pin down.  As long as I am busily working away at self-help I am able to fool myself into believing that I have some sort of a handle on all of this.  But when we start talking about death and resurrection I start to stammer, and if there is one thing I really don’t care to do it is to stammer.

Here in America we have this love affair going on with the self-made individual.  You know, the guy or gal who pulled themselves up by their boot straps, and did it all “their way?”  We worship certainty and confidence, and we love God to pieces as long as God is on our side and piling on the blessings.  But we are far less comfortable with coming face-to-face with ourselves as sinners and in need of God’s redemption.  We are far less comfortable with the notion that left to our own devices, we are dead, and that only God has the power to raise the dead to life.  Our tendency towards self-help suggests that we believe ourselves capable of pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps so that we can stand before God all squeaky clean and justified – without any help from God.  We are a troubled lot when it comes to embracing mystery and accepting that we don’t have all the answers.  How easy it is to forget that the breath of life is a gift from God – given to all of creation equally; and how easy it is to forget that we need God just as surely as we need God’s gift of breath.

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