Wednesday, April 8, 2009

This is Holy Week. It is a time of reflection, renewal, and refreshing.

In the major mono-theistic religions, there is always a time set aside to repent and recommit oneself to living a life pleasing to God, however way we honor Him. I am a believer of Jesus Christ so this week means to me that I reflect upon my sins and the sins of the world that Jesus bore on the cross. I believe in His resurrection and the new life that I am able to have because He paid the penalty for my wrongdoing.

This morning, in an unusually late Tuesday morning, my husband and I talked.

It was ironic that our conversation was about the topic of grace, redemption, renewal, and restoration, those very tenants most human beings are looking for.

Our conversation started in part because of a news report unveiling yet another church scandal. As we talked, I thought, the problem lies within us - human beings - Americans.

This country has a very puritanical viewpoint and anything outside that is judged. That is a problem because who set the standard besides God? Then, how that standard is interpreted - trust me, I've been in many churches from Catholic to Pentecostal - and in all, there is a measure of acceptable behavior. Some teach confession to a priest others teach that we have a High Priest and only need to confess to God. Some faiths have penance or sacrifice or some other material thing we must do to be absolved of sin, while others, my faith, teaches that we only need to confess to God and strive to never be tempted in that area again.

The problem become when we, as human beings, want to hear someone absolve us.

As we talked this morning, I thought about it more and more because spiritual antenna are usually tuned up during the period from Lent to Easter. We see it as renewal of purpose and possibility.

Yet, we are all still flawed. That is why we feign shock and indignity when some public figure falls under some human discretion and he or she is outed for that thing. My faith teaches that sin is sin is sin so it doesn't matter if it was gambling to sex to stealing, it is all the same sin. But is it?

We hold our public figures and ministers up to higher accountability. Perhaps from the Christian and Biblical teaching of the qualifications for a Deacon found in the Timothy letters. Perhaps because we want to have an ideal to measure up to. Maybe that is why the collective emotion around a public disclosure and subsequent public confession (thinking Michael Phelps here for some reason). We are all human,no one is greater than the other, all of us have some divine spring cleaning to do.

Our conversation concluded somewhat with the measure of grace. That is what is often missing in the conversations about indiscretion - again any of it - of those we hold in places of honor. As we enter the holiest days of the Jewish and Christian traditions, let us remember that we are all human, we all have faults, we are all in need of redemption, and we all have the capacity to forgive and minister grace. This is true from our public to private to worship to family lives. If more of us reflected on the basic humanity of the other, we would not be so quick to judge. I'm reminded of what Jesus said to some very pious elders, "he who is without sin, cast the first stone." From the oldest to the youngest, they each dropped their stone and walked away.

In Holy Week, I hope that we drop our stones and walk away. Stand in the mirror, and say, what about me, what can I do to be a better person in the place and time that God has given me? I hope that we all embrace our faith, for me, that would be in Jesus, and not in a list of legalistic does and dont's that are like impossible yokes. We are in a time of great testing as a community and nation. This modern generation has not experienced the mass sorrow and uncertainty that the economic crisis has brought to us. But in the midst of it all, as my husband reminded me, there is Keziah.

He spoke our daughter's name in this Holy Week discussion as a reminder of God's provision and His grace. The need to trust Him and look to Him to continue to lead and guide us. Keziah is a reminder that God did provide, like manna from heaven, when I was pregnant with her and our well dried up.

This will pass, this uncertainty, this unveiling of human flaws, hopefully to have a new day of grace, peace, and recognition that at the core, we all want the same things - to love and be loved and to fill the void in our heart with the knowledge that there is someone greater than us in charge of it all.

May His peace rest upon us as we journey together to renew, reflect, and redeem.

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