Welcome to Lent and the journey with Jesus towards the Cross and the wholeness of God’s eternal world. As you know it is my belief that Lent is not meant to be about denial and sacrifice but about transformation and the area of transformation I will focus on this year is reconciliation. To begin our series Stop Playing Games: Join God’s Reconciling Work For Lent, lets revisit our theme and remind ourselves of God’s call to reconciliation.
The good news of the gospel is God’s desire to reconcile all things to God self. This is an holistic plan, that embraces not just our inner transformation and reconciliation to God but restoration of creation, the making of peace where there is enmity, healing where there is brokenness and renewal wherever the image of God is distorted. Our creator has begun a process of redemption to restore all things to what they were meant to be. The season of Lent is a great time to remind ourselves of that and look at ways we can participate in God’s great plan. .
For in him (Christ) all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross (Col 1:19-20)
The question is how do we get there? As Kerry Dearborn asks in her inspiring new book Drinking from the Wells of New Creation What transforms approaches to reconciliation from being empty verbal niceties or guilt-assauging “quick fixes” to dynamic expressions of the gospel? (68)
She believes that through the Holy Spirit, God’s love has flooded our hearts, united us with God and empowered us to participate in the reconciliation established by God through Christ’s life, death and resurrection. Our goal is to share in the Spirit’s nurturing and life-giving work.
To share in the Spirit’s nature is to create a safe place for life to grow and flourish. In the work of reconciliation it requires drawing close enough to extend a kind of incubating warmth that participates in the Spirit’s work of re-creation. (43)
She goes on to explain that it is the imagination that opens the heart’s floodgates to both receive and release the Spirit’s love to others. First the imagination is the solvent breaking down old ways of seeing the world. Second its creative facility offers us a new vision of life and hope, reshaping our desires and expectations around God’s vision of reconciliation. Third its integrative power connects heart, mind and body to this new vision and catalyzes responses. (69)
It is this good news and the power of the imagination to reshape and transform our responses so that God’s great plan for reconciliation becomes central to all we are and do, that will be the central theme for our Lenten reflections.
This is a big topic and one that we will obviously only be able to scratch the surface of. There are so many areas in which we need to see reconciliation. God longs for us to draw close and embrace the inner restoration and reconciliation to the image of God within us. God also desires racial reconciliation, economic reconciliation and reconciliation to the land and our calling to be good stewards. These are but a few of the areas we hope to touch on.
As we begin our journey together I am reminded of Native American activist Richard Twiss who, not long before he died said to me: “We don’t want you to invite us to your table we want you to invite us to sit down and create a new table together.” In the same spirit, Diana Butler Bass says: Tolerance allows divergent opinions to exist; hospitality welcomes and invites others into dialogue in a spirit of love and trust.
For reconciliation there must be collaboration and hospitality that opens our hearts and our minds to the reconciling love of God. That is just what we want to do and we hope that you will join us on the journey.
Help us learn together and create a new table at which all of us can sit down as equals, affirming and celebrating our differences and the ways that God’s life and light are uniquely revealed.
Stir your imagination and allow the Holy Spirit to inspire you. Do you have a story of reconciliation – within yourself, to God, to others, or to God’s world you would like to share? There is still time to sign up to contribute to the Lenten blog series this year. Leave a comment below and I will send you details of how to submit your article.
Do you know of others whose stories should be told during Lent this year? Invite them to be a part of this too. We hope that this will be a rich season of learning and transformation for all of us as we journey together toward the cross.