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Ash Wednesday Reflection: by Bishop Claire Burkat

Based on 2 Corinthians 5:20 -- 6:10

We gather as the people of God on Ash Wednesday to begin the Lenten season. We join with Christians all over the world, in worship and prayer, in repentance and reconciliation with God. It's a grown-up service for a grown-up faith, that is not afraid to look at suffering, injustice, cruelty, and betrayal in the face.

St Paul implores the Corinthian people;

We entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

We remember it is not we who reconcile ourselves to God…through sacrifice, or being righteous, or performing pious rituals, or being on our best behavior. No, once again we are reminded that God always initiates this reconciliation with us… Through the suffering of Jesus who was sent by God to enter this world and share our suffering, it is, and always will be, there for us and for the world God so loves.

We are reminded today the Christian faith is a grown-up faith. The God who was embodied in Jesus Christ was a loving One, a healing, justice seeking, blessing, accepting, rule breaking One, who was also and simultaneously a suffering One, a betrayed One, an arrested One, a condemned One, a murdered One….and a risen One.

We are already reconciled to God by God, in Jesus Christ.

To reconcile is to make amends, to reach out to another, to confess wrong and make it right. On Ash Wednesday, we confess our sins together in community as humans who have fallen short and will continue to fall short of the model Christ has given us.

But as we reflect upon our sin and our mortality, we simultaneously remember God is already here among us with love and forgiveness and a greater purpose for each and all of us, that we could ever imagine for ourselves

God is making this appeal for us to share this reconciliation and love for one another. Even when it's hard…especially when it’s hard.

Even in a synod that has been divided by hurt, and trauma, by maligning, and suspicion among siblings in Christ.

Look at the text. God is appointing us ambassadors of reconciliation even when we experience "afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights."

Yet, as Lent begins and as once again we accept and live into the reconciliation already offered to us by God, we realize when we push our egos and self-interest out of the way, we are able to recognize the gifts and the consolations that parallels the suffering.

"Purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left."

Yes, these are the paradoxes of the Christian grown-up life of faith and reconciliation, even when forgiveness seems so far away. Look at verse 8 and following…at the depth and wisdom and grace of God in Jesus Christ making God's appeal through us,

“in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything."

We have everything. And it is priceless!

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