Journey Through Lent: First Sunday

320616_10150325006671787_481869681_nIf you watch carefully in church, the colors change. Two Sundays ago clergy wore a green stole. Last week it was white. And today it’s purple. And it’s going to be purple from now until Easter. Then it will be white again. (And then red. And then green.)

We clergy sometimes assume that people just know what we are doing. But, I’m reminded that when I first really started going to church I thought that the clergy just sort of wore whatever they wanted on Sunday. Like, they were color coordinating with their shirt, or pants.

I put the purple on Wednesday night, as we held our Ash Wednesday service. The purple in the stoles that clergy wear this time of year is a reminder penitence, or mourning, or suffering. We come before God looking for reconciliation, and we follow the journey of Jesus as he was tested, and tried, and ultimately killed for who he was.

Purple is a reminder of what the season is about. It signifies the bigger story.

But it’s not the end of the story. There’s something else it symbolizes too. Purple has often been called the color of kings, which is part of why we wear it. We proclaim Christ sovereign over our life. Not any other person. Not any other situation or struggle. Christ.

He’s not a typical ruler. He rejects the kingdoms of the world when offered to him. He turns away from domination. He chooses something better. And that’s what I want to give my allegiance to. To the child of God who knew what it was like to wrestle with faith. To a person who knew what it was to feel pain, and grief and doubt. And to a God who chooses us.

In Lent we have the choice to the option to give our allegiance to a better way. Because God’s love is waiting for us, in Lent, and always.

4 comments

  1. Good afternoon, Emily. I agree with your praise of God’s love in Christ. The church I attend and am a member of, here in the UK, is a Baptist church (in fact, founded specifically on the instructions of Spurgeon over a century ago). I am not, I hasten to say, as it were “jingoistically” Baptist – just an evangelical who believes the Bible. I believe what it says about itself, e.g. 2 Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is breathed out by God…”
    Indeed, without the Bible as God’s Word, I would have no basis for my faith, nor could I come to the Father, since I would not know about Jesus the Messiah. I don’t know if you also claim to believe the Bible to be Divinely inspired (“breathed out”). I appreciate your genuine dislike of judgementalism within the church.
    I suppose the real point about our not, as Christians, being allowed to be judgemental, is that we all have one Judge, who we know always judges fairly, i.e. God. I see on your website someone described as your “wife”. I am just curious, pardon me, as to how you reconcile what is, according to God’s Word consistently a sinful relationship, with ministering/preaching to other Christians. Pardon me, I am just curious.
    I doubt you need me to instance the Scriptures that condemn homosexuality as sinful and as rebellion against the Creator, but just in case, I offer Leviticus 18, Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6:9… Probably there are others. If you were a lay Christian, then unless I knew you personally I doubt I would ask you such a question. But you are, I understand, preaching to others, leading/ pointing them to Heaven, and I wonder how you can do that if you yourself are not, according to the Bible, going there. Please do not tell me I am ‘behind the times’ or something like that. God’s Word never changes, is always therefore both way ahead of and way “behind” the times.

    1. My wife, a good and committed Christian, and I know our love comes from God. The common misreadings of the Biblical texts have oppressed gay Christians for far too long. Those passages, first, don’t refer to consensual same-sex relationships, and, second, have often been mistranslated and appropriated. God is indeed always ahead of the times. And love is always from God.

      1. Emily, thank you for courteously replying to my post. I cannot read Hebrew, nor Greek (much). You speak of “the common misreadings of the Biblical texts”, and go on to say “Those passages, first, don’t refer to consensual same-sex relationships, and, second, have often been mistranslated and appropriated.”
        If I may just ask you you how Leviticus 18:22 has been misread, or refers to non-consensual relationships:
        “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” [ESV]
        If this were to be translated correctly, you seem to be saying, it would read something like “You shall not rape a male as of course you do women..etc” Yet the Bible, in both testaments, does not shy away from saying what it means; moreover there are other, detailed laws relating to rape in the OT, and it is never suggested that rape is OK. Therefore it seems inconceivable to me that in this instance the writer is being so euphemistic as you seem to be alleging. As far as I can see, the same point may be made concerning Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 9:10-11. If you can show me how I am mistaken about this, you are very welcome to do so.
        You write “Love is always of God.” Is it? If two people are having an adulterous affair, and one says “But I love her [or, him]!” – is such “love” from God? The point is, words can be slippery and/or ambivalent. Otherwise why would Paul have written 1 Corinthians 13, that wonderful prose poem portraying the kind of love he regards as indispensable?
        Please don’t get me wrong: I understand that homosexuals can feel or be “in love” with each other and also that if they are Christians they must “love” each other in Paul’s sense. None of that, however, has anything to do with calling themselves “married” to each other. I understand that it must be very difficult for Christian gays struggling with their feelings and their faith. I also believe the church(es) ought to be far more supportive of such brethren, as indeed of those with other weaknesses. The fact that gays have been persecuted historically, including by some of those calling themselves Christians, is something to be repented of. However, the answer to the sin of Christians in not welcoming homosexuals enough cannot be to go to ‘the opposite extreme’ and say “Homosexuality is fine, including for vicars/pastors.” God bless you

        1. This post, by a well-known Biblical scholar, has been very helpful to me: http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=1265

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