Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lent's Coming! Quick -- get out the sackcloth and ashes!

Recently, I contributed a Lenten meditation for my former church's collection of writings. I like Lent, with its thoughtful, penitential focus. It's a lot like spring cleaning (the word lent comes from an Anglo-Saxon word for spring, after all) for the soul.

Here's the meditation:

Meditation for the 5th Day in Lent 2010 by Erlinda

Please read 1 Corinthians 1:1-19

There is a saying: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Unfortunately, this holds true when we look at the state of the Church in Corinth and the present-day Church. Because we have been created to live in community (Gen. 2:18, Matt. 18:20, 1 Cor. 1:9), we have an almost insatiable hunger to belong to something. But often, when we create groups in which to belong, we also create out-groups. When Paul learned that the Church had split into factions, he admonished the Corinthians to strive for unity, “in mind and purpose.”

I have seen the sad results of church splits, whether from personal differences, doctrinal differences, liturgical differences, or any number of things that cause relationships to break down and die. People experience real pain from these splits, and friendships and communities are lost. Worse, people who have been wounded may begin to believe that there is no purpose for a worshiping community. Hearing the Corinthians say, “I belong to Paul”, or “I belong to Apollos”, or “I belong to Cephas”, or “I belong to Christ,” is not much different than saying, “I am orthodox,” or “I am progressive,” or “I belong to Holy Spirit,” or “I belong to St. George,” or “I belong to…” I call it looking at church with a “little c”, rather than Church with a “big C.”

We are going through a time of divisiveness within our Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, of which we are a part. If we, as a Church, are to survive this tumultuous period, we need to do what Paul told the Corinthians – be united “in mind and purpose.” That purpose is to proclaim – in words and actions – the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who do not know Him. This is too big a task for any small group to undertake. We need to look beyond our differences and cooperate in inter-parish and even inter-denominational efforts. Christ will give us the gifts we need to achieve our goal – to fill the hunger of those lonely souls who need to know the love of Christ and the love of a truly Christian community.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus Christ, give us the strength to overcome the sad divisions we are experiencing in our Church. Help us to use the gifts You have given us to proclaim the Good News of Your presence to those who hunger so much for Your love, Your grace and Your peace. Amen.

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