Sunday, March 18, 2007

Jeremiah 14:1-9,17-22; Psalms 66, 67; Galatians 4:21-5:1; Mark 8:11-21

Lent is a sober time. It calls us to prayerful examination, confession, and repentance considering God’s holy mercy and costly grace displayed on the cross. Today’s readings illustrate the gravity of sin, the ravaging consequences it produces, and how we often are unaware of the Lord of all.

I was brought up in church, and I remember in my adolescence feeling cheated because I didn’t get to have a fling with sin before coming to Jesus. (I did not recognize then what a sinner I already was. ) I thought of sin as all that fun stuff that I couldn’t do. But life has taught me that sin is not an entertainer, but a destroyer. It drowns joy and innocence; it leaves cynicism, disappointment, and grief in their place.

Today’s readings in Jeremiah and the psalms show that sin’s consequences are not merely personal, but they extend to nations and to the natural world. But the goodness of God more than covers that same scope. Ah, the greatness of God’s mercy! God’s saving love for individual people is inextricably linked with his ultimate purpose to bring right relationship and blessed order.

How can we be part of that purpose? Remember Jesus’ claim to be “the way, the truth, and the life?” He himself is the road, the roadmap, and the destination. So let us go to him and prayerfully repent of our direct and indirect involvement in personal sin and the web of sin that corrupts our world. We do this soberly, but not morbidly, for God’s word gives us hope. “Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me.” (Ps. 66:20.) We can then demonstrate mercy, love, and care such as we’ve received in Christ to the world around us.

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.” (Ps. 67:1-3; emphasis added.)

Karen Strong

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