On The Way...
This Lenten season we’re turning our hearts and minds to the Scripture and wisdom in the ELCA devotion booklet, “You are the Way.” If you didn’t receive your copy, please let me know. It’s interesting that early followers of Jesus didn’t refer to themselves as “Christians” but as pilgrims “on the Way,” because Jesus is "the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6). With the Middle Ages’ cult of the saints, Christians believed they could erase all their sins if they made a pilgrimage to a holy site such as Rome; Santiago del Compostela in Spain; or even the Holy Land, if you sought to “pay for" a mortal sin like murder. Because these pilgrimages were expensive, they became exclusive opportunities for the wealthy, who misguidedly believed that they'd gain quicker access to God’s grace, and receive preferential treatment in heaven. Yet we know from Jesus’ own words and teachings that God first and always lifts up the poor and lowly to a place of honor. God’s forgiveness is unconditionally given to all people through the holy waters of baptism, and God meets us right where we are. Every human being stands as an equal sinner before God, and all receive equal, eternal forgiveness, without sacrifices or pilgrimages. Jesus has already made the ultimate sacrifice for us, on the cross, thanks be to God! We can appreciate the journeys early pilgrims made, because visits to holy places can strengthen and re-energize our faith and bring us closer to God. Whether we travel to the Holy Land, or across the street to bring a meal to an ill neighbor, we should take every step, every day, with heads held high, bathed in God’s mercy, giving thanks for the gift of Christ Jesus, who meets us on The Way, ready to lead us back to God.
Peace to all here,