Monday, February 27, 2012

The Lenten journey, a call to repentance - Romans 2:4 with a story about Wabush in Canada and an observation

SCRIPTURE: Romans 2:4
Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?

STORY as shared by Brian Weatherdon:
Wabush, a town in a remote portion of Labrador, Canada, was completely isolated for some time. But recently a road was cut through the wilderness to reach it. Wabush now has one road leading into it, and thus, only one road leading out. If someone would travel the unpaved road for six to eight hours to get into Wabush, there is only one way he or she could leave---by turning around.

Each of us, by birth, arrives in a town called Sin. As in Wabush, there is only one way out--a road built by God himself. But in order to take that road, one must first turn around. That complete about face is what the Bible calls repentance, and without it, there's no way out of town.

Max Lucado writes in, And The Angels Were Silent, “The purpose of God’s patience? Our repentance.” And so, we enter the season of Lent. It is a time of prayer and of fasting – for those so inclined. It is a time for looking inwardly and evaluating ones spiritual journey. It is a time to be embraced by God’s patience and to fall on our knees in repentance.

The old Lenten disciplines are seldom followed in our day and time except for the more liturgical of churches. We would much rather hear about the grace and love of God. We rejoice in his forgiveness as we ignore the call to repent. We really don’t mind the trip in our personal “Wabush,” but regret the process of getting out of our situation. And then we wonder why things do not turn out as anticipated.

It is like the statement concerning anger. Anger is like drinking poison but expect the other person to get sick. Or as a dear sole asked me one Sunday after communion, “Pastor, do we really have to have the Prayer of Confession? It is so negative. Isn’t there a pray of love and grace that we can substitute for it?”

This encounter reminded me about the preacher who was met in his study after a sermon by the deacons of the church. They shared, “Preacher we don’t think it wise to preach so strongly about sin because our young people will hear it and just get ideas.” The preacher didn’t say anything, but pulled out a bottle of strychnine which was clearly marked POISON and then the preacher stated: “I see what you want me to do. You want me to change the label from Poison to Essence of Peppermint. Don’t you see the more inviting the label the deadlier you make the poison?”

We might not cherish the spiritual discipline of repentance, but it is the only way out of our personal “Wabush.”

As we begin our journey this Lent with you, gracious and forgiving God, help us with our repentance. We fully recognize that turning around might be difficult and trying, but we also fully recognize it is the only road out of where we find ourselves this Lent. Amen.

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