February 5, 2017
We can't even get two chapters into Genesis without a few lies. So it begins for us "dust creatures." But all is not dark! In fact, the light is coming. Lent means "to lengthen." It refers to what's happening for us in the Northern Hemisphere (sorry Christians in the southern latitudes--it looks like we thought it all was about us up north!) as the days grow longer and the light increases. And increasing light is not just about our trip around the sun, it is about illumination, growing understanding that comes by way of self-examination, reflection, humility.
"You are dust." So comes the reminder of Ash Wednesday. But it is good. We're limited. Life is short. We are connected. It is always good to check yourself, Self-knowing, openness lead us to life and to life-giving ways. Think of it this way. The Lord put the man and the woman in the garden, according to Genesis 2:15, this after declaring them at creation "very good." Very good.
The only thing that changes in Sunday's Genesis story is that they become aware they are naked. God knew, and wasn't ashamed. Lent invites us to be intentional about stripping away what keeps us poor. What we cannot accept in ourselves we cannot accept in others. What I don't love in myself, I can't love in another.
Lent is a journey to freedom..
Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7 † Psalm 32 † Romans 5:12-19 † Matthew 4:1-11
Henri J.M. Nouwen, 20th century
"Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection....When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions....Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the 'Beloved.' Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence."
Jonathan Martin, 21st century
"But that's one way we can identify the devil's voice: It always plays to our fears. It is the voice that tells us we must do something to prove who we are, to prove that we're worthy, to prove that we are who God has already declared us to be. When we know we are loved by God, we don't have to prove anything to anyone. There is nothing we can do to make ourselves more beloved than we are."
Billy Graham, 20th century
"The devil doesn't need to invent any new temptations; the old ones work as well as they ever have."
N.K. Jemisin, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, 21st century
"We can never be gods, after all--but we can become something less than human with frightening ease."
Winston Churchill, 20th century
"One ought never to turn one's back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching you will reduce the danger by half. Never run away from anything. Never!"
C.S. Lewis, 20th century
"How little people know who think that holiness is dull....When one meets the real thing, it's irresistible."