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March 3, 2017

Lent 2017: Day Three

Week One: Actionable Aspirations

Reflection for the Week: God’s goodness is the source that propels leaders into courageous action.

I was born into a Methodist household. We were Methodists until 1968 when the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church united. Now, we are United Methodists. My father was a pastor, my uncle is a pastor, my cousin was a pastor, my brother is a pastor, my sister-in-law was a pastor, her sister is a pastor, and so is her sister’s husband! I have no idea what it feels like to be on the outside of the church looking in. For one Thanksgiving dinner, as a family, we decided we would make it a rule for the entire meal that we could talk about anything but church. Dead silence.

That does not mean I didn’t go through my rebellious stage about religion and the church. As a teenager in the 1960s and ‘70s, I rejected the word “amen” at the end of the hymn as a word that claimed an ending, a “final” word that meant the song was over. The romantic idealist in me believed no song is ever over! So, instead of “amen,” I would sing, “flower.” (Hey, it was the 60s.)

Back then, I would have had a lot of trouble with the Colossian phrase, “Christ in you.” I was bothered at weddings when the pastor would say, “Put Christ first in your marriage. Let him live between the two of you.” When I got married, I didn’t want anyone between me and Sue! That is, until I claimed a new understanding – a new definition born of a more mature and examined faith.

I know now, that to have “Christ in you” is to have other-centered, self-sacrificing love in you. It is to have unlimited compassion in you. It is to have ready forgiveness in you. These are exactly the things I want between Sue and me in our marriage. These are the things I want at the center of every relationship. This where the “hope of glory” lies. Glory means “the divine presence.” Surely, when the love of God, as known in the person of Christ, begins to live in us, the presence of God is made known to those who witness it. And that gives hope. We all need hope. And, we can bring that hope to others if we let this mystery of faith live in us.

Prayer: Hope of the world, live in me today. Amen.