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March 16, 2011

Lent for our present

Rev. Graham E. Morbey

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When we share the premise that the God who is referred to in the texts of the Abrahamic faiths is essentially the same, then we are speaking of billions of people who, amid the great diversity within their own and between each other's traditions, share a great mystery: a God who claims not only to reveal himself to Jew, Christian and Muslim but also to every human being.

It is the One Creator God who reveals that God is not willing that any human should perish and that all should come to repentance.

Repentance begins with mind and heart realizations, lighter or heavier or even unbearable, that things are not right with our relationships and require a practical and observable turning back from sin to a way (early Christians were known as “people of the Way”) that is in tune with “God’s wishes” so to speak.

From earliest times humans have struggled with personal and collective failure to act in accordance with the deeply implanted awareness, the seeds of religion, they carry as creatures of God.

Sin is a disconnect between what God reveals and desires and how we humans actually live our lives.

When the Roman Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in 313 AD he made Christianity legal. The result was that a lot of people wanted to be baptized and become members of the Church and the Church had to deal with it.

How could it be sure that these people were serious about Jesus?

The Church leaders developed a 40 day program in order to prepare for baptism which included Bible study, catechism study, and spiritual disciplines including prayer and fasting.

A biblical text that still lies behind the various traditions of the Lenten Season can be found in Romans 6:3-4: “do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”

Today, the Christian world can be quite confusing both to itself and to others regarding Lent.

Christian communities observe Lent in so many different ways. But for all Christians, Lent is an ancient and hope filled prelude and expectation of the great and glorious celebration of Easter.

Lent has a touch of Ramadan and Yom Kippur about it.

It is the yearning for “newness of life.” We can never, ever be so proud of our own traditions that we disrespect or look down on those of others.

We can only share in deep humility the insights we make our own.

In our troubled times Lent is yet another reminder to let the killing stop and peaceful engagements begin.

May God equip us with all “love and spiritual knowledge to discern what is best.”  

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