Monday, February 23, 2015

ASH WEDNESDAY AND LENT 2015

BY STEPHEN DUNN

Four days ago the Christian season of Lent began.  A good part of the planet, especially in our increasingly secularized America, hardly gave it a thought. American television stations still use it as a time-filling story each year, along with sweet tooth-inducing features about fastnacts that are all the rage on Fat Tuesday.  Or people noticed the day when they noticed someone with a smudge of charcoal in the shape of a cross adorning their foreheads.


You probably should know that Ash Wednesday and Lent do not appear in the Bible.    Ash Wednesday, or dies cinerum, the day of ashes, was first described by medieval writers around the seventh or eighth century A.D. It has, however , become a rich observance for Christians (including this one) who observe it.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of a season of reflection, repentance and renewal.  For me personally, these passages speak to both the purpose and objective,

" If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land." - 2 Chronicles 7.14

"Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you." -James 4.8-10

"Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me." - Psalm 51.7-17

Most of us and not just Christians live an unreflective life.  We are busy, distracted, doing our days by triage instead with intentionality. We also live in a world where moral values seem to be all too vague or subjective, and what we have is constantly slipping and eroding under the daily onslaught of a culture is amoral at best and truth is perceived as what is good for me and my friends, not by what is undeniably true.

Those of who are committed to following Jesus Christ and developing a Christ-like character are not immune to these temptations nor perfect in our resisting that which is eternal by accepting that which is convenient,  And after a while a subtle pride manifests itself as we retreat all too subtly to Adam's sin--thinking we can run our own lives "thank you, very much.:"

That's why we observe Lent.  To build into our annual rhythm a time to reflect on the reality in which we have been living, repent of what we have allowed to go wrong, and then be renewed by the new mind that God provides.

(C) 2015 by Stephen L Dunn














Wednesday, December 31, 2014

NEW YEAR'S EVE

BY STEVE DUNN

Just a couple of hours until the New Year arrives.  Dianne and I are at the age where a quiet evening at home is preferable to parting til the ball drops.  We both slept a little later to start the day.  Then we binged on popcorn at a nearby Regal to see "The Hobbit--The Battle of Five Armies" (4 1/2 stars out of five).  Had an early dinner at Applebees (meaning three in the afternoon).  We shared the restaurant with yet perky wait staff, families with very young children (who will probably be in bed by seven) and couples of an older persuasion trying to get off the road before the crazies come out.

This evening more popcorn, some dangerous sweets, and in about two hours, a cold bottle of sparkling cider.  Our TV fare has been a Big Bang Theory Marathon on TBS.  Since we have lost touch with the music pop culture, all the variation's of Rockin' New Year's Eve have no appeal.  We will switch to Ryan Secrest at 11:45 and watch the ball drop.  Break open the cider, the annual New Year's Eve Kiss.  Both of us will probably be asleep by 12:25.

Sound boring.--No, satisfying.

New Year's Eve means an end to 2014--filled with memories, challenges, mistakes, and triumphs.  It means that tomorrow we will awaken on a fresh new opportunity (although  it will not look much different from this morning, still embedded in 2014.)

Satisfying is preferable to sensational, the latter often like a comet speeding across the night sky, but forgotten with the sunrise of the next day. Satisfying is a sign of contentment.

The Bible has a thought on that with which I wrap up this post.  "But godliness with contentment is great gain." - I Timothy 6:6

Good counsel with which to greet 2015.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Saturday, December 27, 2014

THE CHRISTMAS WITNESS

A favorite of many a child, brought from Celtic Woman

Friday, December 26, 2014

GOD WITH US

Todd Agnew reminds us of the meaning and the purpose of the Incarnation.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

THE FIRST CHRISTMAS EVENING

That first Christmas night, the hope of the ages had entered the world. The beginning of new creation, the redemption of humankind, the declaration of God's unconditional love and amazing grace. - Steve

CHRISTMAS DAY - BEHOLD HE COMES

The First Arrival, the Nativity, the Fist Coming should always remind Christians of the Second.