The Cross

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#Ashes#Lent

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

I want to start out this post with a confession, something you need to know right up front.

I come from a tradition that does not observe Lent. When I was in high school I would see teachers, and maybe a classmate or two, walk around with this black spot on their forehead. I remember one teacher, Mr. Bano, who had this dark spot on his forehead. I almost…almost…went up to him and said something about having a black smudge on his forehead. But I didn’t. I’m glad because he had been to his Catholic church that morning before school.  I didn’t know.  Strangely, I grew up with a large contingent of Catholic people in my school and I had no clue what was going on.

Fast forward to the early ’70s when I was in Bible college (yeah I’m that old) and I was being taught the “evils” of other beliefs-of denominations, cults (agreed), and other faiths (agreed). We were above the others in that we were not a denomination. (I now say hogwash to that theory). Anyway, I was still not taught the idea of Lent.  I also do not consider myself a part of that particular group any more. And haven’t for multiple years.

It wasn’t until I was here in Spencer that I decided to stop being ignorant of something so widespread.  I found out Lent was (supposedly) a solemn time of religious observance that began on Ash Wednesday until what is called Maundy Thursday.  For more you can read here  or here.  I still have to confess that I am not much into special day observances like Lent. Resurrection Sunday (Easter) and Christmas are different.  What I never grasped was this whole idea of giving up something for 40 days for what? One year I tried it. I gave up caffeine pop. The day it was over I had my Diet Dr. Pepper. What did it accomplish? Ummmm nothing, except I didn’t drink caffeine pop.  One year I gave up chips. That wasn’t so big of a deal. At one point I had given up fries and chips for 7 years for my health. I am now into month 15 of giving up pop (soda to some of you).  I can’t say it is a spiritual thing because it is not. It has been a health thing. I’ve been drinking water with extra lemons at restaurants (it does make the bill cheaper), but like I said there is no spiritual significance attached to it.  I don’t drink coffee at all. Can’t stand the taste of it. We are a coffee-less family, except for one member of our extended family.

All that to say (finally! you must be thinking) that I am challenging myself during this Lenten season. Not to give up something, but to add something. As much as I can, I am going to challenge myself to blog some type of Lenten thought here on this blog. I also have to say there might be some cross-pollination between this blog and my “Shadow” blog.  That nature of the beast requires some “shortcuts” along the way. I will also tell you that I will be using John Piper’s excellent little book, The Passion of Jesus Christ, as a way to “seed” my thoughts. I have read it twice before (I have the colored underlines to prove it) but it has been a couple of years since I have. I’ll give credit where credit is due.

I hope you will join me as I try this self-imposed challenge.  In fact, if you would like to get “meaty” with me and take up the challenge on your own blog, then I welcome it and will link to your post as well.

#ChristmasChallenge#Post23

Monday, December 23rd, 2019

I read the following quote:

The birth of Christ brought God to us;

The cross of Christ  brings us to God.

Growing up you really only think of Christmas-besides the whole Santa Claus and gift thing-as the occasion to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We like the story of the baby in the manger. It fits our “meek and mild” picture of Jesus. It fits our Away in a Manger and Silent Night theme.

But as C.S.Lewis says in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (which I just finished reading again), “There is deeper magic here.” What is seen on the surface is just that: the surface. There is so much more to see and learn. There is so much more at work than just the birth; there is also the vision of the cross. Without doubt Jesus came with the specter of the cross in His sights. Phil.2 even tells us that. Jesus reminded His disciples over and over that the Son of Man must suffer and die.  The cross of Christ is always there. It is through the cross, and the cross only, that we find our way to God. It is only through the blood of Jesus that salvation is found.

But it is through the birth of Jesus as a baby, as God made flesh, that it all begins.  The quote again:

The birth of Christ brought God to us;

The cross of Christ brings us to God.

“Father, thank you for that truth. May this Christmas season take on extra meaning because it is more than a baby in a manger. It is also that baby on a cross giving Himself up for us.”

Please check out my fellow #ChristmasChallenge bloggers:

Diane at Hadarah.

Ed at Word!