I am 5 weeks into an 8-week online class on the Lutheran Confessions, a study of “the collection of Reformation-era writings that provides the scriptural and theological foundations for Lutheran faith and practice.” This may sound tedious, but it has actually been an enriching opportunity, with real life application!
In the middle of an online class, the thought of writing more words about faith – words I actually have to let other people read – is exhausting! I’ve written all these things for class – weekly posts, papers, peer responses – all carefully constructed! Why can’t I use one of those? Yet every time I try to go the easy route and “steal” a writing from class for my blog, my husband will inevitably tell me… “It’s good. But it doesn’t really tell any stories about faith in our family.”
Ah, sigh. There’s that accountability I always say has such a positive effect on my writing and my faith journey!
But I have a couple writings from class that I’d like to share. This first was an assignment to write a Lenten Meditation. We are actually in the season of Lent right now – how could I not share this?! The second, which will post next week, was written for children.
I sat my kids down last week and asked if they thought using my writing from class was cheating. As is the norm, they instantly gave opposite responses. (Because why would they agree on anything!) My son said no – I wrote it, I can do whatever I want with it. My daughter said yes – probably just to disagree with her brother. I was ultimately able to convince them both that it was not cheating! I concluded our little chat by saying I really do want to make these weekly writings about our family. I said God is an important part of my life, and I want God to be an important part of their life too. Without skipping a beat, my son says: “He already is.”
So here is the homework… We were tasked to write a Lenten meditation about repentance, baptism and mission. How can something seemingly negative like repentance connect to our lives as baptized Christians and how we positively share the gospel with others? If this intrigues you, give it a read. If like my husband and apparently my daughter, you think this is “cheating” please stop reading now! 🙂
What does it mean to be righteous? In this Lenten season, we journey towards the cross, remembering the sacrificial blood shed by Christ for the forgiveness of our sins and eternal life. This was a gift, given for me. How have I been deemed righteous enough to receive such a gift?
Through Jesus, God came to live among his people, preaching, teaching and setting an example for how to live fully in service to others. God chose to reveal God’s self to us through Jesus – a human man, humbled beyond imagination through death on the cross. He did so willingly. After spending years developing intimate relationships with his disciples, Jesus sat them down at the Passover and described the new covenant which was to come.
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. Luke 22:19-20
If I fail to follow the rules and do the right thing, is this promise for me? Do I keep track of the wrong things I do, then make sure I do enough good to swing the “sin scale” back in my favor, thus making me righteous? No! This is an impossible feat which leads to denial about our true selves and a focus on our past rather than how we might live actively in God’s kingdom here and now. Instead, I repent my sinful self and let the past fade away. I stand and declare with confidence the promise from God which I believe is mine.
Jesus spoke of this new covenant to his disciples in a small, dark upper room 2,000 years ago – but the words are also for me. I spend hours in study, discussions, prayer and bible reading, and this time is a blessing. It helps me trust and fully rely on God; it guides me to offer thanks to a Creator who loves even me. But through all this time and effort, I am not loved by God more now than I was on the day of my baptism many years ago.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8
God loves and we are gifted with grace. That promise is for each of us, and Lent helps us remember that gift. No matter our actions, there is an empty cross on Easter Sunday. We are blessed when we respond, living more fully here and now, helping to spread God’s hope and healing to the world.