Sunday, March 26, 2017
Getting It Right
Back when I was a greenhorn Methodist preacher, long on seminary know-how and short on common sense, I was assigned for the first time by a Bishop to the Stapleton Charge. Three churches made up the Charge and, of course, one of them was named Stapleton. After arriving I did some plundering around in an old box of dusty church records and learned that the Stapleton Church once bore the name of the Spread Church. Further research took me a few miles out of town to a cemetery and the place where the Spread Church once stood. When I read the church records, I learned that back in the late 1890's church members were dismissed from the membership of the church because they had been caught dancing. Times do have a way of changing and sin along with it.
Way back before the Spread Church was purging its membership of all those who had music in their feet, the church removed people from its fellowship for grievous sins. When Lent came into being as a season, one of its purposes was to provide a means for those who had been removed to be re-instated. The Invitation to Observe a Holy Lent has within it those words which say, "...It is also the time when persons who had committed serious sins and had been separated from the community of faith were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the church. The whole congregation is thus reminded of the mercy and forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel of Jesus Christ and the need we all have to renew our baptismal faith."
Now maybe none of us have been removed from the fellowship of the church for dancing, or some serious sin, but it is not hard to figure that we might all have some things which need changing in our lives. A good look in the mirror might even enable us to see how it is that some parts of our life speak of disobedience to God and things we would just as soon other folks not know. Or, to put it more bluntly, a moment of real self-examination might cause us to see how our heart is under the influence and control of some un-handled sin. Lent is a season for getting real about who we are before God. It may be a painful process, but the end result is a renewed fellowship with the Christ who has died for us.