Saturday, February 28, 2009

What Not To Wear

I love this picture, by the way. "Fashion is the new religion"? Seriously?

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."
--Colossians 3:12-14

I got to celebrate a wedding today and the bride and groom chose this scripture to be read. It is a great passage for a wedding, because so many people spend so much time thinking about what they're going to wear at their wedding, but what do you wear to a marriage? Or to any relationship for that matter?

Compassion. Kindness. Humility. Gentleness. Patience. Forgiveness. Love.

Sometimes we forget that these spiritual garments are essential items in any wardrobe. We get so caught up at times in how we look on the outside and forget that we need dressing on the inside, too. And there are times when we need people to be honest enough to say to us, "Hey, you have a bit of selfishness stuck to your shoe." Or, "That anger and resentment really doesn't look good on you. How about trying a little patience and forgiveness?"

Those kinds of things never wear out; they never go out of fashion. They are appropriate for every season.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

Fire and Water
Originally uploaded by peasap

Sunday's palms are Wednesday's ashes as another Lent begins; thus we kneel before our Maker in contrition for our sins. We have marred baptismal pledges, in rebellion gone astray; now returning, seek forgiveness; grant us pardon, God, this day! (From the hymn "Sunday's Palms are Wednesday's Ashes" words by Rae E. Whitney, tune: Beach Spring)

The fire took quickly to the well dried palms, and I could feel the heat as the flames burned higher. The strong wind blows great wafts of smoke heavenward and the smell clings to my hands and hair. I now understand why the ancient traditions use incense to lift their prayers to God. As the flames die down and the fire smolders, all that remains is ash. It is the darkest black imaginable, and messy. The tiny flecks stick to everything.

One by one they come forward--a homeless woman and a district superintendent; the man and the woman who have lost their jobs; the woman whose marriage is faltering; young people with heavy burdens and old people afraid of death. Before the altar, all of this falls away and we are simply reminded that we are dust. Once again the breath of God breathes new life into us, and we are forgiven, redeemed, set free.

We set our feet on the path of Christ. We will not shy away from the cross this year, for we know that there are things that are some things worse than death. And our God will not allow death to have the final word--no, not ever.

May you keep a Holy Lent.