Here we are, deep in Lent, Christian season of penitence and introspection, season of admission of sin and confession of our finitude. We are in a mess. We are not gods unto ourselves. We are sinners.
Who but the poor old church will - in this upbeat, feel-good, progressive society - tell such truth about us?
Lent begins with Ash Wednesday. I hope that you celebrated this day in your church. When I was a college chaplain, I loved Ash Wednesday. I got a rather perverse joy in standing before some strapping nineteen year old, smearing ashes on his forehead and proclaiming, “From dust you have come and to dust you shall return.”
Who but the church will tell such truth?
Last year I published Thank God It’s Friday: Jesus’ Words from the Cross (Abingdon). I so much enjoyed discussions about this book in dozens of our churches. How well I remember a man, in one of the discussions, saying, “It’s kind of invigorating to be told the truth about me. I really do need saving. I really do need a Savior who saves sinners.”
“The good news of Jesus Christ is a thing of great comfort,” said C. S. Lewis. “But it doesn’t begin in comfort. It begins in distress and despair and there’s no way to get to the comfort by bypassing the despair.”
Have a Happy Lent.
William H. Willimon