Read 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10
…we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
For our sake God made him who knew no sin, so that in him
we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:20b-21
We come again to Ash Wednesday, a day when we remember our mortality and seek to repent of our sin. Ash Wednesday leads the way to our Lenten journey that will take us to Easter Sunday. Over the 40 days of Lent we Christians will fast and pray as we remember that Jesus set his sight on Jerusalem knowing that he would be executed by those who did not understand or who blatantly rejected the vision of a new heaven and earth filled with God’s love for all of Creation, and our love for God and one another.
As we are marked by ashes in the symbol of the cross, we remember that Christ died for our sins, and that we are his followers called to wrestle with our sin that through God’s grace we may be redeemed and day by day be more and more like Jesus, our Lord.
In these days as we have experienced the Special-Called General Conference of The United Methodist Church and its continued decisions to exclude our LGBTQIA siblings, I have heard and thought much about sin. There are those who claim that scripture declares that homosexuality is a sin. I have stated that the exclusion of LGBTQIA persons by the Church is sin – institutional sin.
On this Ash Wednesday as we are confronted by our sin and need of God’s mercy and grace, I want to invite us, in the words of the Apostle Paul, to be reconciled to God and to one another. In his second letter to the Christians in Corinth Paul says that being reconciled to God requires that we recognize that through Christ’s sacrifice for us, and with him, we can become the righteousness of God – God’s own people who love God, love neighbor, and even love the one we may consider an enemy.
Living this good and holy life is lived with Christ but also with one another. Paul reminds us that living with Christ and one another requires that we put no obstacle in anyone’s way so that we may each see the day of God’s salvation. Can we commit to walk with Christ and with each other during this Lent in spite of our differences? Not putting up obstacles before each other, but instead praying with and for one another, finding ways to love one another, and working together for the redemption and reconciliation of the world with God.
I believe that if we live this way, the love of God will melt away our divisions as God shows us the true sins that God calls us to turn from. We will then be able to fully see that God is beckoning us to work together, trusting that God in Christ is reconciling not only us, but the world to God’s own self. Then the grace that God has given to us through Christ will not be in vain as we turn from our sin and become agents together of God’s grace in the world.
Peace and Love,
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño