From the Desktop of the Pastor – Week of the 4th Sunday in Lent

Hi all,

Like most people who don’t have strange work schedules (like me), my kids love the weekend. They love the fact that they don’t have to get up early for school. They like to stay in the pyjamas for a good chunk of the morning. They love the more relaxed schedule and of course, the longer screen time they can have.

I mentioned last week about the “no screens after dinner” rule we have for school nights. So when it isn’t a school night (i.e. the weekend), then the kids like to play their games together with their parents (if their parents aren’t working still, that is). But as with many good things, their screen time has to come to an end to make way for sleep. Given half the chance, they would play their screens all night and forego that sleep their bodies totally need.

And it shows. Some weekend nights when we say it’s time to shut down, tempers fly and tears ensue. And we’re like, yeah it’s ironic but your tantrum is just proving the point of how much you need to turn off your screens. We get why they are feeling that way and might even resent us for being “strict” or whatever they think is the case, but one day they’ll see how it’s for their own good (that day will probably come when they have kids of their own who want to play screens all day).

Here are the readings for next week:
Numbers 21:4-9
Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22
Ephesians 2:1-10
John 3:14-21

“God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17)

This might come to a shock to many of you, but I like the above quoted verse a lot better than I like its preceding and much more familiar and popular John 3:16 verse. Maybe it’s just me, but growing up I was taught how, as a Christian, I must to do this and I mustn’t do that. I was given a bunch of rules that I just didn’t like because it felt oppressive and stifling. I didn’t like how I wasn’t allowed to do a bunch of stuff that my friends were able to do, just because I spent my Sunday mornings a bit different than they did.

It took me a while to figure out that those rules were actually from my parents and not from the church, and this verse was one of the many that helped me see that. At the same time, it helped me see some of the rules my parents set in a new light. While many of their rules are still a bit outrageous and nonsensical to me (like an after school curfew of 10 minutes after the final bell rings… the walk home itself minus the packing our bags was an average of like 15 minutes), on the most part they were there for our own good. Things like call home if you’re going to be late, respect the parents of your friends and especially the parents of your girl/boyfriends, and don’t speed excessively when driving. Those rules didn’t seem to matter to me at the time they were given, but now I see how it was just for our own good and well-being, and allowed us to live as a family better.

And the same is with our faith. Maybe there are times when we feel that our faith is oppressive and stifling. Sometimes we wish we didn’t have this burden of a different kind of morality than what the world has. Every now and then, a guilt sets in that tells us that we haven’t lived up to the name of “Christian”.

But that isn’t the point. Jesus came not to condemn, but to save. And that salvation comes through a gracious forgiveness that rids us of all guilt and shame.

I’m not saying that we aren’t going to mess up from time to time or more than that. But it is to say that in our screw ups, there is forgiveness. In our shortcomings there is a building up. In our guilt, there is a healing and wholeness and a love that surpasses understanding, as God recreates us, redefines us, and reforms us as Christ’s body in the world.

What a blessing that is!

Have a great week, everyone!

Photo by Akshar Dave on Unsplash

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