Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Lenten meditations from Doug Floyd

Here are some thoughts on Ash Wednesday, from Doug Floyd's first Lenten e-mail. Doug begins by facing just how awful the world can be--war, genocide, and self-centered denial:

How can we ever really face the magnitude of suffering and evil in this world? Some may choose to ignore it for as long as possible, living a life of hedonistic delight as the world burns around them. Others may deny any ultimate significance to the material world, suggesting it is all an illusion or all subject to destruction anyway. One popular approach is to suggest that everything is some part of divine life: of course, this carries with it the disturbing notion that evil and good are equally divine.

Is it possible things are not the way they are supposed to be? Is it possible the longing we have in our hearts for goodness and truth and beauty are intuitive longings for a world that might have been or might still be?

During January our congregation of less than 150 lost three members to death. People try to be helpful to the bereaved by saying things like, "Well, it's God's will." I don't believe it. Things are not the way they are supposed to be. God did not intend for us to die, but sin entered life through disobedience, and now the whole world has fallen under the tyranny of death. Here's Doug again:

The strange and often misunderstood story of Jesus suggests that God does not ignore evil but takes the pain and power of it onto Himself. Jesus comes to tell Israel that their God has come to dwell among them in a way they never could have imagined. He will become the suffering servant. He will take the pain and hurt and very real anguish of this evil world onto Himself. In so doing, He will make a way for humans to become truly human: truly beings shaped and fully revealed in the beauty of perfect love.

Christians have no real hope in this world, but we do hope in Jesus Christ. As the Apostle Paul said, "If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:17). Life through the grace of Jesus Christ: that's good news, and that's what we proclaim.


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