February 17, 2021

Press Pause and Re-Assess

By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance, O God of our salvation; you are the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas.
Psalm 65:5
We often use words like "hope" and "salvation" thoughtlessly. They are run-of-the-mill religious words to us. They're sprinkled throughout our prayers and hymns and sermons. So there are times when we need to stop and take stock. What does it mean to hope in God? What does it mean that God saves us?

Like most people in both the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), I don't believe there has to be any one answer to questions like these. Each person has a unique relationship with the Divine. Just as each person's fears are unique, being "saved" from those fears need not be a cookie-cutter experience.

But I think there is something that we need to face up to, and that is that no matter what your relationship with God is like, needing to hope in God and calling God our salvation means that we depend on God. By hoping in God, we are admitting our own fears. And in turning to God to be saved, we are admitting that we cannot save ourselves. 

Ash Wednesday is a human tradition, yes. But it's a healthy tradition to participate in if we use it to stop—or at least pause—what we've been doing or saying or even thinking, and admit our need for God. This should include admitting our own mistakes, and it might include a sign such as ashes—a reminder that we are mortals with limited strength.

And so let us press pause today and re-assess our relationship with the One who made us from the stuff of the earth. For it is God who sent us the Christ whose sacrifice on our behalf we should no longer take for granted.

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
 1 John 2:2
Prayer after thinking about today's devotion:
O God, you have made us for yourself, and against your longing there is no defense. Mark us with your love, and release in us a passion for your justice in this disfigured world, that we may turn from our guilt and face you, our heart's desire.
 Janet Morley, All Desires Known
After your own confession, thanksgivings & petitions, close with the Lord's Prayer.

If you tarry till you're better, you will never come at all.
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