A Word from the Associate Pastor…
As we consider this new season of Lent, which began with Ash Wednesday, March 6th, many have unanswered questions about its validity and purpose. The following is a message from a colleague in the ministry for your consideration. Remember, it is not representative of absolute truth, but merely a place from which we can begin thinking about our journey from sin to reconciliation. Take a peek…
A brief history of Lent shows us that the scriptural impetus for Lent is the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness after his baptism. From there we see that Jesus makes his way to the cross for us. Lent is an opportunity to recognize, all of us, why it is that our Lord should die a death meant for us because of sin.
On Good Friday, we see Jesus utter seven final “words” before his death. One such “word” can be found in the Gospel of Mark 15:33-34, where Jesus himself quotes the psalmist King David: “When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At 3 o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi Eloi, lema sabachani?’ which means, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’”But wait a minute, how can this be? How could Jesus, how could God, die?
This is one of the battles the early church had to flesh out. There were those who said he couldn’t really be God because God would never allow himself to be beaten, executed and killed. It is a fair critique. I mean, Jesus wouldn’t really just be defeated like this, would he? How disgraceful. How pitiful. What a loser!
That’s what Friedrich Nietzsche thought. Nietzsche, father of modern atheism, thought it was ridiculous, even sad and pathetic, that we would worship a God that would allow himself to be weak and easily overpowered by humans.
But that’s just it. He did. That’s the beauty of our Lord. He didn’t just play the part. He didn’t just pretend to suffer and die. He didn’t just appear to take our punishment and death. He actually did it. God fully enters our suffering in Jesus Christ. He who knows no sin became sin for us.
And do you know what the best part is? This was not God’s final word. Had Jesus cried out to God and then just died, this would be a sad story. It would have been a perfect ending for those who put him there. A perfect ending for the Nietzsches of the world. However, there is more. This wasn’t Jesus’ final word, and perhaps this is one of the gems of Lent.
What we find on this 40-day journey is that we have a God who knows our pain. He knows our suffering, and out of His abundant grace he has one amazing surprise waiting for us at the end of this Lenten season. God gave us Easter, where because of Jesus, God forsakes you no more.
— The Rev. Steve Olcott is an associate pastor at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Hutchinson.
And so, take a few moments out of your busy day and think on these things. There are insights waiting to come into view. Blessings!
– The Rev. Everett L. Kilgo, Associate Pastor | Minister of Music at Newman Memorial United Methodist Church in Brooklyn, NY