Lenten peace

The Standard March 25, 2023

These few weeks before Easter can present a bit of tension. We want to focus on our own mortality and our desperate need for God, but also realize that something far greater than our shortcomings will prevail. As we lead up to Holy Week, we might be moved to an uncomfortable lack of peace, knowing that our sins added to the monumental suffering of Jesus and, ultimately, to nailing him to the cross.  As many preachers have said, “It’s Friday, but Sunday is coming!” We know the gloriously joyous end of the story. So, in the midst of self-reflection and repentance, we have peace. The peace does not come from our own ability to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and to improve ourselves or to dust ourselves off and become presentable, but from God having done for us what we could not do for ourselves. Perhaps you know someone who would benefit from hearing the good news of Easter in the next two weeks- someone hurting for lasting peace.

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:13-18)

Fifty years ago or more, my mom taped a copy of the “Peace Prayer” of St. Francis of Assisi inside our most-used kitchen cabinet, by the wall phone. I always have loved it. This is a perfect prayer for Lent and beyond. If we could do these things with God’s help, those with whom we come into contact would see tangible glimpses of God at work. “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

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