Where the Light Enters

Message for Wednesday February 10, 2016
Speaker: Minister Vicki McPhee
Ash Wednesday

Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. Leonard Cohen wrote these words for his song called “Anthem”. I can’t imagine what better words might describe the ministry and the challenge given to us by Jesus, the one who became our Christ. Jesus was criticized again and again for eating with those people who existed at the margins of what was acceptable in society. The tax collectors, the prostitutes, the sick and the lame. He was chastised for healing on the Sabbath, for not respecting purity laws, not keeping certain traditions. The ministry of Jesus was all about letting go of perfection, of measuring up, of achieving a certain level of accomplishment before approaching God. He taught that sacrifice and cleanliness were not requirements to talk to God. Being submissive before a priest or religious authority was not necessary. That one did not have to have a certain number of days of no mistakes—like sometimes you see in workplaces where it says how many days the worksite has gone without a safety issue—This job has operated x number of days without an accident—we do not need to insert a number here in our living our daily lives without some transgression or impriority on our part before asking God for help, courage, strength. For asking God for a blessing, peace or grace.  Jesus showed us time and time again in his travels and in his relationships with his disciples and followers that one does not need to be perfect to be God’s beloved.

Each of us have times and places in which we strive to not reveal our less than perfect selves. At work, at school, in certain relationships, at family gatherings, even at church, we do not necessarily want others to see the messier sides of our lives—the crying that makes your nose run, the anger or frustration that makes you wonder how you could possibly be Christian with such uncharitable thoughts running through your head, the despair that can sometimes overwhelm and drown any figment of hope that you might carry. We don’t like to let people see past the mask of, “how are you, oh I’m good” moments of coming together. Because we’re afraid we might be the only one who feels that way, who thinks that way. But you are not. We often say here at Symons Valley that you are not alone. God is with us. Well, you are not alone in your imperfection. In your questions and doubts. In your moments of judgment and times of hopelessness.

Lent is a time of self-reflection. For examining the self. To hear the stories of Jesus and wonder where you are in the story. What the lesson is for you in today’s time and place. To see the path of Jesus and wonder where along the way you might join him in your faith journey.  We often hear of Lent of being a time of sacrifice and self-penance—a time of giving up something that is dear to us, like a form of fasting, so that when the coffee, chocolate or Facebook is missed, we will remember our efforts turn to God. But I would say Jesus would not think this type of sacrifice is necessary. I would venture a guess that, instead of fasting through Lent, he would tell us instead to let go and let God. Forget the perfectionism, take down your mask, your brave front. Let it go. And let God work. And if you think it not possible that God can work in and amongst you with all that you hide behind that mask your wear, let me quote Annie Lamont, from her book, Small Victories, from a chapter in which she recounts her experience of going to San Quentin State Prison to work with the inmates there—the lifers as she describes them. “Jesus promised that God forgives the unlovable and the unforgivable, which means most of us—the lifers, me, and maybe you”.

Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. Take down your mask and let God, through Jesus, guide you this Lent. Be willing to be changed in the journey. And, for your sake, be willing to be loved. Amen.

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