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Upsala Presbyterian Church has re-opened for in-person Sunday worship services (10:00 A.M.).
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LENT. The reason Lent is so long (40 days) is that the path to the truth about ourselves is long and snagged with thorns. "We have been through Lent before," we may be tempted to protest. And Lent would indeed be a futile thing if we were henceforth, and from now on, sinless. But the truth is that as long as our spirits are housed in fallen human flesh and bone, they are prone to complacency, and so need continual rescuing. There once was a Christian saint who made himself a cross with 30 protruding nails and strapped it on his back like a porcupine skin day and night. And he never took a bath, in order to mortify his comfort-seeking body. We, on the other hand, feel the need for daily showers, because soap has not broken dirt's dominion over us, which is another indication that we have not yet arrived at the place where we are meant to be. The purpose of Lent is not to escape the reality of our sinfulness, but to create a healthy hatred for evil, and a heartfelt contrition for sin, and a passionately felt need for grace. And this continuous movement of faith, from a sense of sin to grace and forgiveness, ends only when our spirits are ultimately released from these human bodies of ours. The purpose of Lent, in other words, is not to starve our sin, but to get rid of it. And for such an undertaking, Lent can scarcely be too long.
Consider well that both by night and day,
while we most busily provide and care for our disport,
our revel, and our play, for pleasant melody and dainty fare,
death stealeth on full slyly;
unaware, he lieth at hand and shall us all surprise,
we know not when nor where nor in what wise.
When fierce temptations threaten thy soul with loss,
think on Christ's passion and the bitter pain,
think on the mortal anguish of the cross,
think on Christ's blood let out at every vein,
think on his precious heart all rent in twain.
For thy redemption think all this was wrought,
nor let that be lost which he so dearly bought.
(Thomas More, 1478-1535)
What might we be if only we tried? What might we become if only we'd listen?
Only the person who has experienced it can believe what the love of Jesus Christ really is.
(Bernard of Clairvaux)