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Autumn Foliage

God is the Potter

In our Lenten bible study, youth fellowship meetings, and confirmation class (we have 5 members ranging from freshmen in High School to their 50’s!) some great conversations have arisen about living a daily life in distinct ways that honor Christ. Some of the words the church uses to describe this lifestyle have taken on some “baggage” and lost their power to invite and encourage Christ followers to healthier lives of faith. Lent is a season ripe for growth as a disciple of Jesus Christ. I’ll try to “unpack” two of these words so they might help you live into this season of Lent; that you might experience a deeper sense of God and a more transformative spiritual journey in these six weeks.

“Piety” has taken on a sense of “showmanship” in our world. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks of those “who like to display their piety in front of others” as inauthentic and insincere. But it’s not piety or living piously that Jesus is speaking against. It is doing so in ways that emphasize, aggrandize, and showing display how religious one is. The word “Piety” means to live in “devotion to God that is shown in the way someone lives”. (Cambridge English Dictionary). Piety is living out the values of Christ: humility, servanthood, forgiveness, honesty, strong prayer life. During this season especially, I encourage you to think through what living your piety might look like. Do we live out expressions of devotion? Do our daily life choices reflect our covenant with Jesus? Devotion – Piety - is not a pompous, self-glorifying lifestyle. It is a humble, service-centered, daily practice that glorifies God. I invite us all to be in- tentionally practicing our piety during this Lenten season.

“Holy” is another word that the world doesn’t clearly understand nor does the church always express in healthy ways in its witness. All too often when the church says, “Holy”, the world hears “Holier-than-Thou”. Sadly, at times it’s because of the way the church has lived out its holiness. To often in the church it suggests by its action and off-putting ways that Christians are better than or more loved by God than other people. In our services on Sunday morning, there is a moment called “The Assurance of Pardon”. I always end this part with the words,”....It is in the name of this Jesus, who we claim to be Christ of our lives, that you, and I, and each, and all are forgiven”. It is a reminder that God’s love is for each and all and that God’s forgiveness is for each and all. God’s not waiting for us to “say the magic words”, or wants to hear us confess before he’ll forgive us. God’s work on the cross is already done for the whole world that “God so loves”! We as Christians hold no higher place in God’s heart than anyone else – any more than a parent loves one child more than another.

The word “Holy” literally means “other”. When scripture says God is holy its saying that God is “other than” the world God created. God is Creator, we are the creature. Just as scripture declares God is the potter, and we are the clay. Still, scripture tells us that “we are to be holy as God is holy”. How do we understand that!? We are to live “other than” the world lives. We are to live in the ways of Jesus; the ways of Justice, Love, and Peace. The world’s ways are injustice, violence, hatred, oppression, consumerism/materialism. We are to live “other” than that. We are to follow and live in the ways of Jesus! That’s holiness and that’s how we are to “live and have our being” as church tradition says. This Lent, may we all seek to live daily in ways of piety and holiness - that our lives would honor Christ and give glory to God. May this Lent be a season of preparation and reflection as we move toward the definitive act of Christ’s love: the cross.

Be God’s, Pastor Jim

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