This week is Holy Week. It is a sacred time to contemplate Jesus’ suffering and death and the love for us that compelled him to do this for the drop. The question that the faithful ask is, “Why did God do this for a messed-up world like ours.” The short answer is to begin the process of healing and restoring the mess we see in ourselves and the world around us.
We are born self-centered. The world revolves around us. As we grow and mature, hopefully we learn some important lessons about waiting our turn, helping others, being nice, sharing with those in need, etc. People who do not learn these important lessons have difficulties in relationships and in extreme cases have to be locked up in jail for the good of society, because of antisocial behaviors, like taking from others, hurting others, etc.
The Bible addresses this problem of self-centeredness (sin). The Ten Commandments call us to put God and others before ourselves. This goes against our very nature. That is where “take up your cross” comes in. The cross, for anyone living in the Roman Empire at the time of Christ, meant death. Jesus invites us to die to our naturally selfish nature and be “reborn” as new people, through the mystery of God’s working in His Word and the water in Holy Baptism.
God’s Word and the “mysteries” of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper connect us to the cross and Christ and give us strength for this lifelong process of dying to self and living for God and others.
This is why Christians regularly hear God’s word and receive the gifts He offers. Churches are groups for self-centered people who are in “recovery.” Christians aren’t perfect. They are all in various stages of recovery. I urge you to find a recovery group in the list of available churches listed here in the paper.
The Rev. Andy Carlson, Sr. M.Div., grew up with 22 siblings in a log cabin in the backwoods of Alaska (120 miles from the Arctic Circle). He has served 23 years in the parish (five of those years were as a Navy/Marine chaplain). He is a Gulf War Veteran. He has served Funny River Community Lutheran Church since 2015.
• By Rev. Andy Carlson for the Peninsula Clarion