Pastor’s Corner – March 2020
A teen-age boy told his parents he was going to run away from home. “Listen,” he said, “I’m leaving home. There is nothing you can do to stop me. I want excitement, adventure, beautiful women, money, and fun. I’ll never find it here, so I’m leaving. Just don’t try to stop me!” As he headed for the door, his father leaped up and ran toward him. “Dad,” the boy said firmly, “you heard what I said. Don’t try to stop me. I’m going!” “Who’s trying to stop you?” answered the father, “I’m going with you!”
I know—it is a bad joke. But the point is a good one. The point is this:
Humans are always declaring their freedom, wishing for more “space,” announcing that they belong only to “themselves.” We want to be free from the enslavement of the kitchen, or from confinement of a job we don’t like.
Airplane companies claim to set us free, and pharmaceutical companies say the same (despite all the crazy side effects). There are deodorant companies which promise to set us free from the worry of underarm wetness and odor; a certain toothpaste declares we can be set free from dull teeth. Then we are promised freedom from pain by Tylenol, Advil, Motrin and others. Ron Popeil, when selling a rotisserie oven, tells us that we can “set it, and forget it!!” Then we have the freedom to spend time with our families and make our lives better.
Ultimately, we want freedom to sleep at night with a clear conscience, freedom from fear of death, and above all, freedom from the terrors of judgment day.
Lent is the season of confessions and of freedom in Jesus Christ. It’s the season of conversion and re-creation by grace. The humbling disclosure of our souls that we are sinners, without excuse or explanation, opens us up to the real work of Lent. And it’s this Lenten work that defines the penitential aspect of the season. Lent doesn’t compel us to stay in a cesspool of shame or to sit in a permanent soiled state of guilt. It shows us our freedom by grace. Lent points us to the way of love and pushes us to pursue it and to labor tirelessly to live it more fully in all we do.
I mentioned last Sunday how important it is for me to give up all the fun apps I had on my phone. I miss them so much, I now realize how dependent I am on these games and how much they enslaved me into wasting so much time each day.
I encourage all to take and faithfully use the Lenten devotionals we have provided, not only for adults, but also for our children and families. Devote some time each day to prayer, self-reflection, and giving of alms. Almsgiving is not just a fancy, Catholic word and not simply extra money to the church or charitable items given to other organizations, but also patience, kindness, a generosity of time, and peace to those closest to us. And we exercise meekness in admitting we need these from others and graciously accept them when they’re offered.
I speak often of our Lenten journey. Our journey is the living out of our confession. It is allowing our God-Light shine for others. It’s the reason for the ashes. It’s the work of Lent. Let us all, young and old alike, journey together.